VATICAN CITY, Oct 22: Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday sent his "cordial greetings" to the world's Muslims on Eidul Fitr and voiced concern for the "innocent victims" of the violence in Iraq.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church offered his greetings during his weekly Angelus prayer at the Vatican.
"I am happy to send cordial greetings to Muslims around the world who are these days celebrating the end of the Ramazan fasting month," the pope said.
"I send them all my wishes for serenity and peace."
The pontiff said "this atmosphere of joy contrasts dramatically with news from Iraq concerning the very serious security situation and the atrocious violence to which many innocent people are exposed for the sole reason that they are Shiite, Sunni or Christian."
"I am aware of grave concerns in the Christian community and I want to make clear that I am close to them and with all the victims," he said.
He prayed that "religious and political leaders both locally and around the world will have the courage needed to help the Iraqi people along the path of reconstruction ... in mutal respect and the understanding that their diversity is an integral part of their richness."
The message addressed to "Dear Muslim friends" by Cardinal Paul Poupard, said: "The particular circumstances that we have recently experienced together demonstrate clearly that, however arduous the path of authentic dialogue may be at times, it is more necessary than ever."---AFP