Pope: An "imperative and urgent obligation" to protect civilians trapped in Mosul

Our "great hope" that is founded in faith and promise "not to just of anyone, but of God." "We call today to the Lord for the grace to count not so much on our safety, on our own strength, but on the hope drawn by the promise of God."

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – There is an ''imperative and urgent obligation "to protect civilians caught up in Mosul” said Pope Francis at the end of the general audience when he greeted the delegation of Iraqi Superintendents composed of representatives of various religious groups. "The richness of the beloved Iraqi nation – he  said - lies in this mosaic that is the unity in diversity, union strength, harmony prosperity. Dear Brothers, I encourage you to move forward on this path and invite you to pray for Iraq, for reconciliation and harmony between its different ethnic and religious components, peace, unity and prosperity. My thoughts - he continued – turn to the civilian population trapped in the western districts of Mosul and those displaced because of the war, to whom I feel united in suffering, through prayer and spiritual closeness. While expressing deep sorrow for the victims of the bloody conflict, I renew to all the call to engage with all strength in the protection of civilians, as an imperative and urgent obligation”.

Previously, Francis spoke to the 30 thousand people present in St Peter’s of our "great hope" that is founded in faith and promise "not just of anyone, but of God."

The Pope commented on a passage from the Letter to the Romans, particularly where it says that Abraham believed in God "who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist" (Rom 4:17); and then it is stated: "He did not weaken in faith when he already dead as his body and the dead womb of Sara" (Rom 4:19). "The passage from the Letter of St. Paul - he said - makes us a great gift. In fact, we are used to recognize Abraham as our father in faith. Today the Apostle makes us understand that Abraham is our father in the hope; not only the father of the faith, but our father in hope. This is because in his case we can already grasp a message of the Resurrection, the new life that overcomes evil and death itself. "

"The God who reveals himself to Abraham is the God who saves, the God who has come out of desperation and death, a God who calls to life. In the story of Abraham all becomes a hymn to God who frees and regenerates, everything becomes prophecy. And it becomes for us, for us that we now recognize and celebrate the fulfillment of all this in the mystery of Easter. For God "he hath raised Jesus from the dead " (Rom 4:24), because we can pass in Him from death to life. And really then Abraham may well be called "the father of many nations", as resplendent as the announcement of a new humanity - we -, redeemed by Christ from sin and death and introduced once and for all into the embrace of God's love ".

"At this point - he said - Paul helps us to focus on the close bond between faith and hope. In fact, he says that Abraham "believed, hoping against hope" (Rom 4:18). Our hope does not stand on reasoning, forecasts and human reassurance; and it occurs where there is no hope, where there's nothing left to hope for, just as it did for Abraham, in front of his imminent death and sterility of his wife Sara. There was the end for them, they could not have children and there, in that situation, Abraham believed and had hope against hope. And this is great! The great hope is rooted in faith, and as such is able to go beyond all hope. Yes, because it is not based on our word, but the Word of God. In this sense, then, we are called to follow the example of Abraham, who, even before the evidence of a reality that seems destined for death , trusts in God, "fully convinced that what he had promised he was also able to bring to completion" (Rom 4:21) ".

Pope Francis added: "I would love to ask you a question: We, all of us, are we convinced of this? Do we believe that God loves us and that everything he has promised us He is willing to bring to fruition? But Father, how much do we have to pay for this? 'There is a price: to open the heart'. Open your hearts and this force of God will continue and will do miraculous things and teach you what hope is. This is the only price: open our hearts to faith and He will do the rest. This is the paradox and at the same time the strongest element, the highest of our hope! A hope founded on a promise that from the human point of view seems uncertain and unpredictable, but that does not fail even in the face of death, when the promise is made by the God of resurrection and life.”

"Dear brothers and sisters - he concluded - We call today to the Lord for the grace to count not so much on our safety, on our own strength, but on the hope drawn by the promise of God. Like true children of Abraham. When God promises, He accomplishes what He promises. He never goes back on His word. And then our life will take on a new light, knowing that he who raised his Son, will raise us also and we really will be One with Him, along with all our brothers in the faith. Do we all believe. Today we are all in place, we praise the Lord, sing the Our Father, then we will receive the blessing ... But this passes. But this, too, is a promise of hope. If today we have an open heart, I assure you that all of us in the square will meet in Heaven forever, that never goes out. And this is the promise of God. And this is our hope, if we open our hearts. Thank you".