Pope’s pilgrimage to Iraq and land of Abraham begins

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Mar 5, 2021

“I came as a pilgrim for the peace and a repentant asking for forgiveness,” Pope Francis informed Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi after arriving in Baghdad on March 5 on the first-ever papal journey to Iraq.

Francis described his journey as “long-awaited and desired visit” to Iraq, the “cradle of civilization closely linked through the Patriarch Abraham and a number of the prophets to the history of salvation and to the great religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”

Hundreds of Iraqis started lining up within the early morning to welcome the pope alongside the Airport Highway, the place they held Iraqi and Vatican flags when his car glided by within the afternoon. The pontiff’s car slowed, and its window was rolled down so Francis may wave to the throng your entire size of the highway.

In the presence of Iraq’s president, prime minister, the pinnacle of the judiciary system, the parliament speaker and different Iraqi political and social leaders, Francis referred to as upon “governmental leaders and diplomats … to foster this spirit of fraternal solidarity. It is necessary, but not sufficient, to combat the scourge of corruption, misuse of power and disregard for law.”

He referred to as for “justice and the fostering of honesty, transparency and the strengthening of the institutions responsible in this regard,” including, “In this way, stability within society grows and a healthy politics arises, able to offer to all, especially the young of whom there are so many in this country, sure hope for a better future.”

The pope’s go to was a chance for Iraqis to unite throughout a troublesome time the place Iraq is affected by a number of crises. Iraqi leaders from completely different political orientations gathered in welcoming the pope on the Baghdad Palace within the coronary heart of the Green Zone; these included leaders of Islamic events and the Popular Mobilization Units leaders and secular politicians from numerous groupings.

“Iraq has suffered the disastrous effects of wars, the scourge of terrorism and sectarian conflicts often grounded in a fundamentalism,” Francis stated. “Here, among so many who have suffered, my thoughts turn to the Yazidis, innocent victims of senseless and brutal atrocities, persecuted and killed for their religion, and whose very identity and survival was put at risk.”

Iraq’s parliament this week accepted the Yazidi feminine survivors legislation, which is to supply help to survivors of Islamic State oppression. Last 12 months’s Sinjar settlement signed by the central authorities and the Kurdistan Regional Government offers a pathway towards stability within the Yazidi homeland, in three levels: safety, administration and reconstruction.

Following the official assembly with Iraqi leaders, the pope went to Our Lady of Salvation Church, which was the scene of a 2010 bloodbath perpetrated by an al-Qaeda affiliate that killed 58 worshippers, monks and safety forces and injured 78 others.

Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, the patriarch of Babylon and the pinnacle of Chaldean Catholic Church, informed the pope his go to was an ideal help to all Iraqis, highlighting the historic assembly the pope will maintain tomorrow in Najaf with the highest Shiite cleric in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

“The apostolic mission should not stop in these lands in which God blessed you,” Francis stated to the Iraqi Christians within the church. “We know that it is easy for a person to be seized by frustration, but the kingdom of God, the kingdom of justice, accompanies you on your journey.”

The pope thanked the Christians for staying of their homeland amongst different individuals who have suffered from wars and persecution and referred to as on all believers to proceed this mission.

Iraq had misplaced nearly all of its Christian inhabitants, amongst different minorities, throughout the previous few a long time because of persevering with wars and safety crises — most not too long ago the rise of Islamic State, which brought on many to flee Iraq or to be displaced internally.

Francis wrote a letter to the Christians of the Middle East in 2014, demanding they resist the pressures pushing them to depart their international locations.

“Dear Christian brothers and sisters of the Middle East, you have an enormous responsibility and in meeting it you are not alone. … How precious your presence and your mission are in the land which the Lord has blessed,” the pope stated in his letter.

“I do hope to have the chance to come to you in person and to visit and to comfort you,” he stated.

Nearly seven years later, Francis has fulfilled his promise, visiting one of many first early Christian communities within the area.

However, the first-ever papal journey to Iraq means far more than expressing non secular help to Christians.

The pope’s go to to Iraq is a major initiative empowering the rise of moderation and civil actions in step with Sistani’s name for a civil state and standard demonstrations that started in 2019 demanding a nationwide and secular state after a long time of dictatorship and extremism.