Pope Francis condemned a twin suicide bombing in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad that killed at least 32 people and injured over 100 others. IS has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, on behalf of Pope Francis sent a telegram of condolence to Iraqi President Bahram Salih for the victims of the massacre. "His Holiness Pope Francis" reads the telegram, released by the Vatican Press Office " was deeply saddened to learn of the bomb attacks on Tayaran Square in Baghdad this morning. In deploring this senseless act of brutality", the text continues, the Pope "prays for the deceased victims and their families, for the injured and for the emergency personnel in attendance. Trusting that all will continue work to overcome violence with fraternity, solidarity and peace, Pope Francis - concludes Cardinal Parolin - invokes upon the nation and its people the blessing of the Most High"
"They wanted to send a message of death, which perhaps has to do with the withdrawal of US soldiers from the Country, or with the electoral project. The fact remains that, so far, there is no declaration or claim from who is behind these explosions" said Cardinal Louis Sako to Fides News. People crowded the second-hand clothes market in Tayaran Square, in central Baghdad where the attack occurred. Pope Francis’s apostolic visit to Iraq, scheduled for March 5 to 8.
On January 19, in Baghdad, at the headquarters of the Chaldean Patriarchate, the Catholic bishops in Iraq had participated in a meeting in preparation for the announced papal visit.
Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, in view of the upcoming "Fast of Nineveh" - three days of fasting and prayer traditionally observed by Chaldean Christians to commemorate the conversion of Nineveh following the preaching of the Prophet Jonah, days that this year fall on the 25th to January 27 - exhorted all the Chaldean baptized to "pray for salvation from the Coronavirus epidemic" and "also for the success of Pope Francis' visit in March".