Vatican City: Pope Benedict XVI condemned the "absurd violence" against Christians in Iraq, after two priests and 35 worshippers were killed today, in a hostage drama at a cathedral in Baghdad.
"I pray for the victims of this absurd violence, all the more ferocious in that it struck defenceless people, united in the house of God, which is a place of love and reconciliation," Benedict told pilgrims in St Peter`s Square during an address to mark All Saints` Day.
The pontiff said he wanted to renew his call for peace in the Middle East.
"Confronted with atrocious episodes of violence which continues to tear apart the populations of the Middle East, I want to renew my call for peace," he said.
"This is a gift of God but also the result of efforts of men of good will, of national and international institutions," he said.
"May everyone join forces so that all violence stops."
The pope said he expressed his solidarity with the Christian community in Iraq, following the taking of dozens of hostages late yesterday by Al-Qaeda gunmen, in the Sayidat al-Nejat Syriac Christian cathedral, which was then stormed by US and Iraqi forces.