Pope Benedict said Iraq's celebration of its Asian Cup soccer victory was a sign of a people yearning for peace, and expressed hope on Wednesday the event would help pave the way to an end of bloodshed.
- Special: Iraq finds solace in AFC Cup win
"Just as many times I have cried with the Iraqis, in this circumstance I rejoice with them," the Pontiff said at the end of his weekly general audience.
The Iraqi national team that won the Asian Cup on Sunday includes Shi'ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish players.
"I was moved with happiness by the enthusiasm that seized the people, drawing them into the streets to celebrate," the Pontiff said.
"I hope the event can contribute to creating in Iraq, with the support of everyone, a future of authentic peace, in freedom and mutual respect."