The Chaldean Patriarch expressed satisfaction with Pope Francis' visit to Iraq, who is stronger than COVID-19 and terrorism. This event can bear fruit “in every respect”, from interfaith dialogue to the rebirth of the Christian community and the country. The meeting with al-Sistani was memorable.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) - “Before leaving I asked Pope [Francis]: ‘Are you happy?’. And he said, ‘A lot’,” reads the message of the Chaldean primate, Card Louis Raphael Sako, posted on the website of the Chaldean patriarchate. These remarks exemplify the enthusiasm and success of the apostolic journey to Iraq, which ended this morning with the pontiff's return from Baghdad to Rome.
This visit was influential “in every respect”, from interfaith dialogue – especially with Shia Islam – to reinforcing the local Christian community, which is alive and passionate despite violence and persecution. The full text of the Chaldean Patriarch's message follows:
Pope Francis' visit was influential in every respects. It was an unusual visit, at an unusual time. The visit was enriched by its simplicity, humility, love, messages with very deep meanings; the stations he visited and the people he met: officials, religious, politicians and people in Baghdad, Najaf, Ur of the Chaldeans, Erbil, Mosul and the Nineveh Plain (Baghdeda).
Those were moving moments. Those days, the eyes of the whole world were on Iraq. Before his departure I asked him, “Are you happy?” he raised his hands and said, “A lot!”
The global message of this visit is “We are all brothers”, the slogan the Pope chose for the visit. As His Eminence al-Sistani said: “You are part of us and we are part of you. We are different brothers, so we both have to counter the mindset of guilt, betrayal, sectarianism and accept each other with love.” We must respect differences that enrich us, banning all forms of violence.
During the visit we really had one team: the presidency, the government, Sunni and Shia authorities, the Church, the security services and the media. We had great success for a visit that will mark the pontificate of Pope Francis and which touched the hearts of all Iraqis.
This event will never be forgotten. The many sceptics who tried to hinder the success of the visit got their response and saw our unity, steadfastness and the Pope's own insistence on visiting Iraq.
Today we must continue to remain united, as if we were one team, so as not to disperse the treasure of this success. We must not give up now, but should instead continue for the rebirth, progress and prosperity of our country.
Many thanks to all those who contributed to the success of this visit, and there are many of them. Thanks also to Iraqi television and the other channels that followed the visit.
Let us pray that Iraq may once again become a country of civilisation, of interaction between religions, of diversity. The land of good deeds and glory.
* Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Iraq