GENEVA (AP) - The World Council of Churches said Saturday it prays Iraqi leaders will pursue reconciliation in "a land of daily killings" following the execution of Saddam Hussein.
"We hope against hope for an end to fear and death that marked Saddam Hussein's rule and that continue now from other hands," said the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the body that brings together about 350 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries.
Kobia, a Kenyan Methodist, said it was significant that a leader had been held responsible for his crimes, but noted that the council opposes the death penalty.
"Each taking of a person's life is a part of a larger tragedy, and nowhere is this more apparent than in a land of daily killings," he said in a statement. "At the death of Saddam Hussein, our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Iraq. We pray to God to grant this suffering nation the mercy, justice and compassion that it has long been denied."
He said the council prays "that those who hold power in Iraq now and in the future will create a new heritage of government for its people. May Iraq's leaders pursue reconciliation and mutual respect among all its communities."
The Roman Catholic Church is not a member of the council but cooperates with it.
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