Pope expresses concern over refugees from Iraq

Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday expressed concern about the plight of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have fled their homeland to Syria and called on aid organizations to step up efforts to help them. "My thought goes today to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees in Syria who were forced to leave their country because of the dramatic situation" there, Benedict told pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter's Square. He said a Syrian Catholic charity group was already helping them, but that he wanted to appeal to "the sensibilities of the private sector, of international organizations and governments" to make "further efforts to help meet their more urgent needs." Benedict said he was praying to the Lord "so that these brothers and sisters may be comforted by God and by the new generosity of the hearts of so many."