Yesterday, the world’s attention turned to Iraq, where His Holiness Pope Francis arrived. The Pope of the Catholic Church on a historic visit, which witnessed an official and popular celebration, as he was received on the grounds of Baghdad Airport by Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi.
His Excellency Dr. Anwar bin Muhammad Gargash, the diplomatic advisor to His Highness the President of the State, confirmed in a tweet on his Twitter account that “Pope Francis’s historic visit to brotherly Iraq is another step towards consolidating the vision of tolerance, communication and dialogue that every sane person in the region seeks, a vision of peace.” We aspire to stability and prosperity after decades of strife, wars and exclusion.
Shortly after his arrival, the Pope made an urgent call, saying “Let the weapons be silent!” And he called for listening to “whoever makes peace.” In his speech, he quoted phrases from the document on human fraternity that was signed during his visit to the Emirates, in February 2019.
The Pope expressed his firm conviction that the true teachings of religions call for upholding the values of peace and human brotherhood. He said, “We must look to what unites us, rather than what leads to our division.”
The Pope of the Catholic Church referred to the context of the visit, and the circumstances of the Corona epidemic, saying that “this crisis calls for concern, but it also prompts us to think about the way of life and existence.” Pope Francis urged, in his speech in Baghdad, to distribute vaccines against the emerging corona virus in a fair manner.
The Pope of the Catholic Church spoke of the violence and crises that the world has witnessed in recent decades, saying: “Fundamentalism that does not accept coexistence has brought death, destruction and visible ruins.”
Pope Francis referred to what the Yazidis were subjected to in Iraq at the hands of the terrorist organization ISIS, describing what had befallen them as reckless barbarism and inhumanity. The Pope also cautioned about endangering the identity of the Yazidis, saying that cultural and religious difference should be a valuable and useful aid, and not something that is sought to be discarded.
He stressed the need for an effective reconstruction process, in order to hand over a fairer and more humane world to the old generations. He emphasized that justice and respect for the law are what protect coexistence, and this matter requires effort and commitment from all, according to him.
And Pope Francis added that the Vatican tirelessly calls for the respect of rights and the protection of all religious groups in the world, in order to promote peace and harmony. And the Pope called to stop committing atrocities in the name of God Almighty, saying, “Stop violence and extremism,” saying that “God calls for love, not displacement and terror.” Pope Francis expressed his thanks to the humanitarian organizations that work in reconstruction in Iraq, and are active in helping the displaced and refugees.
The visit of Pope Francis to Iraq is the first of its kind in the country’s history, and it will include five Iraqi provinces and will continue until the day after tomorrow. Groups of members of the Christian community and the Iraqi folklore band participated in the reception ceremony at Baghdad Airport, which presented a chant to welcome the presenter of Pope Francis, while others waved the flags of Iraq and the Vatican State.
Al-Kazemi escorted the guest of Iraq, His Holiness, Pope Francis, to the Grand Reception Hall at Baghdad International Airport and held a bilateral meeting during which they exchanged welcome and side talks. Al-Kazemi said in a tweet on his personal account on the social networking site “Twitter”: “With all love and peace, Iraq welcomes the people and government of His Holiness Pope Francis, to confirm the depth of the human bonds that were, and are, the two rivers, and will remain their historical stage for the meeting of religions, ideas and common human values.” He continued, “Welcome to his holiness in the land of Sumer, Babylon, Assyria, the prophets and the saints.”
Groups of Iraqis lined up to receive Pope Francis on the road to Baghdad International Airport during the passage of his official motorcade.
The Iraqi authorities deployed thousands of army and police forces of all kinds in the streets and along the road linking Baghdad airport and its branches that the Pope’s motorcade would take during his historic visit.
Pictures of the Pope and Vatican flags filled the streets of Baghdad, which were largely empty due to the closure that would last until Sunday evening.
The Pope touched on all sensitive topics and issues facing Iraq, in his meeting with Iraqi President Barham Salih. “Silence the weapons,” he said. Let us put an end to its spread here and everywhere! And let the special interests cease, the external interests that do not concern the local population. Let us listen to those who build and make peace! ”
He called for “confronting the scourge of corruption, abuse of power, and everything that is illegal.” Then the Pope went to the Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Deliverance. Today and tomorrow he will visit Najaf, Ur, Erbil, Mosul and Qaraqosh.
In turn, Iraqi President Barham Salih expressed his appreciation for His Holiness Pope Francis’s insistence on visiting Iraq, despite warnings about the dangers of the spread of the new Corona virus. “The Iraqis feel proud of the Pope’s visit,” Saleh added. He stressed that “Iraqis are proud of being the guardians and defenders of churches, and work must continue to combat extremism and terrorism, and that the Christians have lived through difficult years that forced them to leave Iraq.” The Iraqi president said: “Years have passed on Iraq and we are working to reform the system of government and determine the sovereignty of Iraq, and we are keen to make Iraq an arena for harmony and respect for sovereignty.”
He explained that the Iraqi Christians, the people of this land, along with their brothers with other sects, still face challenges in order to achieve reforms, and that the Pope’s visit is a historic opportunity to support diversity, and this visit is an opportunity to emphasize the values of love and peace, and we hope that His Holiness the Pope will continue forming a joint seminar for dialogue under the supervision of the Vatican and Najaf. He said, “The role of His Holiness, Pope Francis, is great in dialogue and coexistence, which is the subject of Iraqi pride and appreciation.”
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