03/08/2021, 19.07
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Pope in Iraq: Pontiff reiterates the reasons for fraternity and forgiveness

Francis has Q&A with journalists on the flight back from Baghdad. The meeting with Al-Sistani validates the reasons for fraternity and dialogue; the one with the father of little Alan Kurdi highlighted the right to emigrate. Lebanon will be the destination of an upcoming trip, but nothing has been decided about Argentina.


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis spoke with journalists on the plane that brought him back from Baghdad, landing in Rome around 2.20 pm.

During the flight the pontiff focused on a number of issues. The meeting with Al-Sistani validated the reasons for fraternity and dialogue; the one with the father of the Alan Kurdi highlighted the right to emigrate, alongside the right not to emigrate; the stories of Christians in Qaraqosh were touching; Lebanon will be the destination of an upcoming trip, one to Argentina has not yet been decided.

The trip came “after these months in prison. I really felt a little imprisoned. This trip revived me. Revival means touching the Church, touching the holy people of God, touching all peoples. A priest becomes a priest to serve, in the service of the people of God, not for careerism, not for money.”

On Women's Day, Francis said that “we must fight, fight, for women’s dignity. They are the ones who carry forth history; this is not an exaggeration. Women carry forth history and this is not a compliment because today is Women's Day”.

Francis stressed the “strength women have in carrying forth life, history, family.” Yet, “even today women are humiliated. Let's look at an extreme [situation]. One of you showed me the price list for women (by the Islamic State for Christian and Yazidi women). I couldn’t believe it: For this kind of woman, of this age, this is the price”.

“Women sell themselves; women enslave themselves. Even in downtown Rome, working against trafficking is an everyday job. During the Jubilee I went to see one of the many houses of the Opera Don Benzi. Young women had been freed, but one had an ear cut off because she had not brought money that day; the other was brought from Bratislava in the boot of a car, enslaved, kidnapped. This happens in our part of the world, right! People trafficking.”

Asked about relations with Islam and his meeting with Al-Sistani, Francis answered by revealing that the Abu Dhabi document “was prepared with the Grand Imam in secret, over six months.” It was “a first step” and “we can say that this was the second and that there will be more.”

“Ayatollah Al Sistani said something that I’ll try to remember: Men and women are either brothers and sisters by religion or equal by creation. Equality is in fraternity, but we cannot go below equality. He (Sistani) was very respectful.”

“This meeting was good for me. It is a light, and these wise men are everywhere because God's wisdom has been scattered throughout the world.”

The pontiff spoke about the Middle East, Lebanon. “Lebanon is a message. Lebanon is suffering, Lebanon is more than a balance; it has the weakness of diversity, some still not reconciled, but the strength of the great reconciled people, like the strength of cedars.

“For this trip Patriarch al-Rahi asked me for a favour and make a stop in Beirut, but it seemed a bit too little ... A crumb before a problem, a country that is suffering like Lebanon. I wrote him a letter; I made a promise to visit”.

“I didn't think about a trip to Syria, because I didn't get any inspiration. But I am so close to tortured and beloved Syria, as I call it.”

“Yesterday after Mass I met the father of Alan Kurdi because he asked”. Alan drowned in 2015 after the boat he was travelling capsized in the sea.

“Migration is a twin right: the right not to migrate, and the right to migrate. These people have neither, because they can't but migrate, [and] don't know how to do it. They cannot migrate because the world has not yet become aware that migration is a human right.”

“Urgent measures are needed to make people work in their own countries and not migrate.” Some “measures [are needed] to uphold the right of migration.

“It is true that every country must study well its capacity to receive” but “it is not only [a question of] the capacity to receive and [⒯hen] leave them on the beach. It is [the capacity] to receive them, to accompany them, to move them forward and to integrate them. Integrating  migrants is the key.”

With respect to forgiveness, “What touched me most is the story of a mother in Qaraqosh,” said Francis. She “lost her son in the first Islamic State bombings. She said one word: forgiveness. I was moved. A mother who says: I forgive, I ask forgiveness for them.”

“We lost this word, we know how to insult big times, we know how to condemn big time; me first. But forgive... forgive one’s enemies, this is pure Gospel. That's what struck me most in Qaraqosh.”

Finally, in Mosul, “I stopped in front of the destroyed church, I had no words. [I] couldn’t believe it . . . Couldn’t believe it …  Not only that church but also the other churches, even a mosque [was] destroyed. It probably did not go along with those people. It’s hard to believe how cruel humans can be.”

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