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Remarks following Angelus on Second Sunday of Lent

Pope Benedict XVIs dedicated his first appointment with the general public after his week long Lenten retreat to two appeals. One for the community of peoples in Iraq, the other for the victims of Saturdays massive earthquake in Chile.

The Holy Father emerged from a week of silence and prayer Sunday for his midday appointment with pilgrims and visitors in an overcast St Peter�s square, and after praying the Angelus with them he revealed that this week, despite his retreat, he had learned with profound sadness of the tragic news of the recent killings of several Christians in the city of Mosul, central Iraq. The Pope revealed that he is also deeply concerned by other episodes of violence against defenceless people of different religious affiliation and that in these days of intense meditation, he often prayed for all victims.

On Sunday Pope Benedict XVI joined in spirit to pray for peace and the restoration of security, promoted by the Council of Bishops of Nineveh, making their appeal to the dwindling Christian flock, his:

“Never tire of being a leaven for good in the country in which you have fully belonged for centuries!�

The Pope underlined the �delicate political phase that Iraq is going through� in the lead up to March elections, appealing to the civil authorities, to make every effort to restore security to the population and, in particular, the most vulnerable religious minorities.

Pope Benedict also warned against rising sectarianism, that is splitting the once united nation along ethnic and confessional lines, with Sunni, Shiites and Kurds pitted one against the other.

The Pope also urged against the “temptation to allow temporary and partisan interests prevail over the safety and fundamental rights of every citizen�.

Pope Benedict XVI then turned to Chile, where even as he spoke, another strong aftershock rocked the cities of Conception and Santiago one day after the massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake. He said

�My thoughts also go .. to the people affected by the earthquake, which has caused numerous losses of human lives and enormous damage. I pray for the victims and I am spiritually close to the people sorely affected by this major disaster, for them I implore relief from God for their suffering and courage to overcome adversity. I am sure that the solidarity of many, especially church organizations, will not fail�.

Earlier in his reflection on the Sunday Liturgy the Holy Father spoke of the meaning of the Transfiguration as recounted in the Gospel of Luke. He said

�The Transfiguration reminds us that the joys sown by God in life are not points of arrival, but lights that He gives us on our earthly pilgrimage, for “Jesus alone” is our law and His word is the policy that guides our existence�.

Finally in this Lenten season, the Pope invited everyone to meditate assiduously on the Gospel, particularly pastors, so in this Year for Priests, they

“are truly imbued with the Word of God, really knowing and loving it to the point that it gives them life and shapes their thinking”