Pope expresses sadness at deaths of Iraqi Muslim pilgrims
Published: September 1, 2005
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI expressed his sadness at the deaths of nearly 1,000 Iraqi Muslim pilgrims, victims of a stampede apparently caused by fear of a sectarian attack. In a telegram Sept. 1, the pope said he was "deeply saddened" by news of the tragedy and sent his condolences to relatives of the dead and injured. He also said he was praying that a "climate of reconciliation and mutual trust" would finally be established in Iraq. The pope said he hoped that "all believers in the one God may unite in deploring every form of violence and may cooperate for the return of harmony in the tormented land of Iraq." The telegram was addressed to Archbishop Fernando Filoni, apostolic nuncio in Baghdad. Authorities said at least 960 people died in the stampede Aug. 31 and predicted the final death toll would be higher. Many of the bodies ended up in the Tigris River below the bridge. Iraqi leaders declared three days of national mourning after the tragedy.
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