- May 15, 2021
An Iraqi historian says when the people of Mosul “are able to regain some sense of normalcy in their lives, coexistence will come back too, and with it, reconciliation.”
From his experience in Iraq in 2018, Monsignor Kieran Harrington doesn’t look at one stop, or moment, from Pope Francis’ trip to Iraq as most significant. Rather, it’s the fact that the Holy Father was there in the first place.
Pope Francis’s historic visit to the Middle East’s most conflict-riven nation gives hope and comfort to Iraqis of all faiths, and some would even say to Arabs beyond Iraq’s borders.
Speaking to a crowd that saw its girls and women sold as property by Islamic State terrorists, and on the eve of International Women’s Day, Pope Francis gave a “heartfelt thank-you to all the mothers and women of this country, women of courage who continue to give life, despite the wrongs and hurts.”
The “tragic diminution of Jesus’ disciples here and across the Middle East,” the pope said, “does incalculable harm not just to the individuals and communities concerned, but also to the society they leave behind.”
Pope Francis’s March 5-8 visit to Iraq is historic for many reasons, not least of which is the Saturday meeting with the chief figure in Shia Islam, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
The deaths of those martyred in the Syro-Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation on Oct. 31, 2010, Francis said during a meeting with the bishops, religious, and catechists in Baghdad, “are a powerful reminder that inciting war, hateful attitudes, violence or the shedding of blood are incompatible with authentic religious teachings.”
U.S. Religious Freedom commissioner Nadine Maenza hopes that Pope Francis’s presence in Iraq can “shine a light” on the situation for the whole world.