Pope Benedict XVI has denounced the "ferocious" attack on a Baghdad Catholic church and called for renewed international efforts to broker peace in the region.
Benedict said two priests were among the estimated 52 people killed Sunday after militants took an entire congregation hostage at the Our Lady of Deliverance church. Iraqi security forces stormed the church, but it wasn't clear if the dead were killed during the initial hostage-taking or the rescue effort.
During a holiday blessing Monday, Benedict said he was praying for the victims "of this absurd violence, made more ferocious because it was directed against unarmed people gathered in the house of God."
He called for new international and national efforts to end violence.