By Linda Bordoni
Addressing the crowds in St. Peter’s Square for the General Audience, Pope Francis turned his thoughts to the people of Iraq and said he is praying for the country.
In his greetings to the Arabic pilgrims, the Pope said he welcomed the faithful from Syria, Egypt, the Middle East and especially those from Iraq.
He addressed the Iraqis directly saying: “I say to you, citizens of Iraq, I am very close to you. Your country is a battlefield with wars on each side.”
He said he is praying for the war-torn nation and recalled his intention to visit: “I pray for you and pray for peace in your country that I had planned to visit this year.”
And the Pope encouraged the faithful of Iraq to devote time to meditate on the Word of God, to participate in the Sacraments, to fast and to pray in order to renew their relationship with God and with their neighbour.
"At the beginning of Lent,” he said, “I would like to wish for you all a time of conversion, of inner renewal and of personal and spiritual growth.”