Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic World News

Pope Francis in Iraq: recap

March 08, 2021

Pope Francis returned to Rome on March 8 after a historic 4-day visit to Iraq, which was highlighted by an inter-religious ceremony at Ur, the birthplace of the patriarch Abraham.

Before that meeting, which had been billed as a prayerful gathering of the “children of Abraham,” the Pope met with AyatollaySayyid al-Sistani, the leader of Iraq’s Shiite Muslims. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said that meeting was “an occasion for the Pope to thank Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani for speaking up… in defense of those most vulnerable and persecuted” during the years of violence in Iraq.

At the meeting in Ur, the Pope said: “Today we—Jews, Christians, and Muslims, together with our brothers and sisters of our religions—honor our father Abraham by doing as he did: we look up to heaven and we journey on earth.” In fact, however, despite the urgings of the Vatican, Iraqi organizers refused to allow a Jewish delegation to participate in the ceremony.

“The journey of Abraham was a blessing of peace,” the Pope told the assembly. He pleaded for a common recognition “that God is merciful and that the greatest blasphemy is to profane his name by hating our brothers and sisters.”

The following day—Sunday, March 7—the Pontiff traveled to the cities of Erbil and Mosul. In Mosul, reflecting on the devastation of the Christian community during the months of occupation by the Islamic state, he remarked that “the tragic consequences of war and hostility are all too evident.”

“How cruel it is that this country, the cradle of civilization, should have been afflicted by so barbarous a blow, with ancient places of worship destroyed and many thousands of people—Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, and others—forcibly displaced or killed,” the Pope said. He continued: “Today, however, we reaffirm our conviction that fraternity is more durable than fratricide, that hope is more powerful than hatred, that peace is more powerful than war.”

On Monday the Pope concluded his trip, with a brief meeting with Iraq’s President Ahmed Salih at the Baghdad airport, followed by a short farewell ceremony.

Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Baghdad, said that the papal visit had already begun to change the climate of opinion in Iraq. “First the waiting for the Pope, and then his presence, have produced a miracle,” he said.


For all current news, visit our News home page.

Further information:
Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.