- Apr 17, 2021
Having witnessed or even experienced persecution for their faith, the Christians of Iraq must be careful not to harbor thoughts of revenge, Pope Francis told them.
During his first remarks in Iraq, Pope Francis said that the name of God can never be used “to justify acts of murder, exile, terrorism and oppression,” and that minorities cannot be treated as second class citizens.
Pope Francis heads to Iraq on Friday to urge the country’s dwindling number of Christians to stay put and help rebuild the country after years of war and persecution, brushing aside the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns to make his first-ever papal visit.
In Iraq, two decades of back-to-back conflicts have left ancient Christian communities that were once a vibrant and integral part of the landscape scattered and in ruins.
Before Pope Francis left for his historic trip to Iraq, several observers objected to the risks he was taking, given the security situation and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, one American working in the country said, “it’s never an optimal time to come here.”
Pope Francis’s upcoming apostolic visit to Iraq offers Americans a time for prayer and solidarity with the pope and the Iraqi people, said two leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
It began like any other Sunday in the Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad for worshipper Louis Climis. That day nearly 11 years ago would end with blood-stained pews, anguish and lives lost.
Pope Francis is set to become the first pontiff to set a foot in Iraq on Friday, when he lands in Baghdad after a four-hour trip from Rome.