03/08/2021, 12.29
VATICAN - IRAQ
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The Pope and restored ruins of Mosul speak to the whole world of hope

by Bernardo Cervellera

On his trip to Iraq, Pope Francis signalled the buds of rebirth, unthinkable even just a few years ago. The power of hope, which pushes the population to collaborate, overcomes the obstacles of the state and politics, still prey to divisions. Iraq's message of hope relayed to Myanmar, Hong Kong, Cambodia, the whole Middle East, a large part of Africa. Wherever power and control becomes an idol. Even in a world in the grips of Covid and an economic crisis, hope comes from the coexistence of identities, from mutual help, from faith.

Rome (AsiaNews) – An elderly Pope Francis bowing and asking God's forgiveness for the violence unleashed in the square of the four churches in Mosul; the choral participation of Muslims, Christians, Yazidis and Sabeans, all in traditional costume, survivors of a violent uprooting; the crumbling walls of the churches under reconstruction, where the monument to the martyrs and to those who died under the murderous fury of bloodthirsty hired men is blessed ... I was moved to see all these buds of rebirth in a country and especially in a people that risked crumbling away like dust on the wind to disappear.

Iraq, like Iran, influenced by the Zoroastrian tradition, celebrates the new year in spring, on March 21. This year, the new spring came a few weeks earlier, with the pontiff who revealed the resurrection of a people who seemed destined to be swallowed up by terrorism, emigration, division to the eyes of the whole world.

I underline "people" and not "state": The Iraqi state is still crippled by division, laying mutual blame, yet to rebuild harmony within, but the people show us examples of hope in coexistence and the future. Young Muslims and Christians rebuilding mosques and churches in Mosul is something that has been going on for some time. The Pope highlighted this by showing the power of hope that overcomes oppression; the resurrection that overcomes death.

What Francis showed has the flavour of the unconceivable. Years ago (in 2014), when we launched the “Adopt a Christian from Mosul” campaign, we met defeated, impoverished, hungry, thirsty, homeless, desperate people. Today, however, we see them brimming with enthusiasm for the reconstruction that has begun and for the common tenacity, stronger than the political divisions that still taste of partisan politics and corruption.

This hope rising from the ruins is not just for Mosul and Iraq. Yesterday the Pope said: “Today, however, we reaffirm our conviction that fraternity is more durable than fratricide, that hope is more powerful than hatred, that peace more powerful than war. This conviction speaks with greater eloquence than the passing voices of hatred and violence, and it can never be silenced by the blood spilled by those who pervert the name of God to pursue paths of destruction.”

As I followed the words of Pope Francis, messages came from Myanmar, where a desperate military junta is trying to stop, the population's desire for freedom, peace and coexistence even by killing.

In the previous days, in Hong Kong, the trial was held against 47 democratic personalities, accused by China of being "subversives" and thrown into prison as criminals. We could add Thailand, Cambodia, the whole Middle East, a large part of Africa to this list: in all these places, the States (or the oligarchies that dominate them) follow their projects of power and violence without any heed to the needs and demands of the population. "Perverting the name of God" does not only regard the terror of ISIS, but any project that makes power and control its idol.

Yesterday in Qaraqosh, Pope Francis said at a certain point: “Surely, there will be moments when faith can waver, when it seems that God does not see or act. This was true for you in the darkest days of the war, and it is true too in these days of global health crisis and great insecurity. At times like these, remember that Jesus is by your side”. The reference to the crisis generated by Covid and the increasingly evident desperation of so many people affected by disease and misery, says that the hope of the reconstructed ruins of Mosul is a pledge for them too. As for the population in Iraq, what is important is the coexistence of identities, mutual help, together with faith that in history, "the last word belongs to God and to his Son, the conqueror of sin and death." .

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