Catholic News Agency

Pope Francis prays for Iraqi PM after assassination attempt

Pope Francis meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi at the Vatican, July 2, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Nov 9, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis is praying for Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi after an attempted assassination attack on his home with armed drones.

The pope expressed his “prayerful closeness” in a telegram released by the Vatican on Nov. 9 in which the attack in Baghdad was condemned as a “vile act of terrorism.”

“Following the attack on your residence in Baghdad, his Holiness Pope Francis wishes me to convey his prayerful closeness to you and your family, and to those injured in condemning this vile act of terrorism,” said the message sent on the pope’s behalf by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

“His Holiness once more expresses his confidence that with the blessing of the Most High God the people of Iraq will be confirmed in wisdom and strength in pursuing the path of peace through dialogue and fraternal solidarity.”

Al-Kadhimi was unharmed in the attack on Nov. 7, but six of his guards were wounded when his residence was targeted by three armed drones, according to Reuters.

“I am fine, praise be to God, among my people, and I call for calm and restraint from everyone, for the sake of Iraq,” the prime minister wrote on Twitter.

No group had claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt. The prime minister’s office called the attack “cowardly” and “a serious targeting of the Iraqi state by criminal armed groups.”

The attack came amid increased tensions in Iraq after Iran-backed militia groups disputed the results of the Oct. 10 parliamentary elections.

Pope Francis met with al-Kadhimi at the Vatican in July. They spoke about “the importance of promoting a culture of national dialogue to foster stability and the process of reconstruction of the country,” according to the Vatican.

In March, Pope Francis became the first pope to visit Iraq. Al-Kadhimi welcomed the pope upon his arrival in Baghdad as he descended the steps of the first papal flight to Iraq.

The two met at the airport on March 5 before Pope Francis gave a speech to a gathering of civil authorities at the presidential palace.

Al-Kadhimi declared March 6 a National Day of Tolerance and Coexistence in Iraq in honor of the pope’s landmark meeting with the country’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

During their most recent encounter, the prime minister gave the pope a cross made from wood and stone taken from the ruins of the ISIS-destroyed St. Addai Church in the Iraqi town of Karamlesh on the Nineveh Plains.

Francis’ historic trip to Iraq brought him from Baghdad to the birthplace of Abraham, as well as to the rubble-strewn city of Mosul, where the Islamic State declared its caliphate in 2014.

“But then what touched me most was the testimony of a mother in Qaraqosh,” Pope Francis said.

“She is a woman who lost her son in the first Islamic State bombings, and she said a word: ‘forgiveness.’ I was moved.”

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