03/10/2021, 11.53
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Pope: a message of fraternity from Iraq tormented by war and terrorism

Francis dedicates the general audience to his journey to Iraq. The "unforgettable encounter" with the Great Ayatollah Al-Sistani. “Who sells weapons to terrorists? Who today sells weapons to terrorists who carry out massacres?”. "God, who is peace, grant a future of brotherhood to Iraq, the Middle East and the whole world!".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - On his trip to Iraq, Pope Francis met a martyred Church, saw and heard the testimonies of war and terrorism, found the hope of peace and fraternity of the Iraqis.

Pope Francis dedicated today’s general audience to his journey to Iraq. The audience was again held in the private library and during his reflections he spoke of the "unforgettable meeting" with the Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani and arms trafficking: “who sells weapons to terrorists, who are carrying out massacres in other parts, in Africa, for example? It is a question; I would like someone to answer it".

Francis said: “I profoundly felt the penitential sense of this pilgrimage: I could not get close to that tortured people, that martyred Church, without taking upon myself, in the name of the Catholic Church, the cross that they have been carrying for years; a large cross, like the one placed at the entrance to Qaraqosh. I felt it in a particular way seeing the still open wounds of the destruction, and even more by meeting and listening to the witnesses who survived the violence, the persecutions, the exile ... And at the same time I saw around me the joy of welcoming the messenger of Christ; I saw the hope of opening up to a horizon of peace and fraternity, summed up in the words of Jesus which were the motto of the visit: "You are all brothers" (Mt 23: 8). I found this hope in the speech of the President of the Republic, I found it in many greetings and testimonies, in the songs and gestures of the people. I read it on the bright faces of young people and in the lively eyes of the elderly ".

“The Iraqi people have the right to live in peace, they have the right to rediscover the dignity that belongs to them. Its religious and cultural roots go back thousands of years: Mesopotamia is the cradle of civilization; Baghdad has been a city of primary importance throughout history, hosting the richest library in the world for centuries. And what destroyed it? War. War is always the monster that, with the changing ages, transforms itself and continues to devour humanity. But the response to war is not more war, the response to weapons is not more weapons. And I pondered the question: who is selling weapons to terrorists? Who today sells weapons to terrorists who carry out massacres? Just think of Africa, for example? It is a question; I would like someone to answer it ".

“The real answer - he said again - is fraternity. This is the challenge for Iraq, but not only: it is the challenge for many regions of conflict and, ultimately, for the whole world. For this we met and prayed, Christians and Muslims, with representatives of other religions, in Ur, where Abraham received God's call about four thousand years ago. Abraham is a father in faith because he listened to the voice of God who promised him descendants, he left everything and set off. God is faithful to his promises and still today he guides our steps of peace, he guides the steps of those who walk on Earth with their gaze turned to Heaven. And in Ur, being together under that luminous sky, the same sky in which our father Abraham saw us, his descendants, that phrase seemed to resound in our hearts again: You are all brothers”.

"A message of fraternity came from the ecclesial meeting in the Syrian-Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad, where in 2010 forty-eight people, including two priests, were killed during the celebration of Mass. The Church in Iraq is a martyr Church and in that temple, which bears the memory of those martyrs inscribed in stone, the joy of encounter resounded: my amazement at being among them merged with their joy at having the Pope with them".

"We launched a message of fraternity from Mosul and Qaraqosh, on the Tigris River, near the ruins of ancient Nineveh. The ISIS occupation caused the flight of thousands and thousands of inhabitants, including many Christians of different denominations and other persecuted minorities, especially the Yazidis. The ancient identity of these cities has been ruined. Now they are trying hard to rebuild; Muslims invite Christians to return, and together they restore churches and mosques. Brotherhood. And let us continue, please, to pray for these tried and tested brothers and sisters of ours, so that they may have the strength to start over. And thinking of the many Iraqi emigrants, I would like to say to them: you have left everything, like Abraham; like him, keep faith and hope, and be weavers of friendship and fraternity wherever you are. And if you can, return”.

"A message of fraternity came from the two Eucharistic celebrations: that of Baghdad, in the Chaldean rite, and that of Erbil".

“We praise God - he concluded - for this historic visit and we continue to pray for that land and for the Middle East. In Iraq, despite the roar of destruction and weapons, palm trees, a symbol of the country and its hope, have continued to grow and bear fruit. It is also so for fraternity: it makes no noise, but it is fruitful and makes us grow. May God, who is peace, grant a future of brotherhood to Iraq, the Middle East and the whole world! ".

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