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The Pope’s Visit…A Message of Fraternity, Reassurance and Solidarity

The Pope’s Visit…A Message of Fraternity, Reassurance and Solidarity

Saturday, 6 March, 2021 - 12:30
Jebril Elabidi
Libyan writer and researcher

''I come among you like a pilgrim"..said Pope Francis in his message which stressed that “we are all brothers”.

The Pope will pray in the Iraqi city of Ur, the birthplace of the Prophet Abraham, seeking to convey a message to the world and to the followers of the three monotheistic religions, who are united by Prophet Abraham, peace be upon him.

“I come to you as a repentant pilgrim to ask the Lord for forgiveness and reconciliation, after years of war and terror,” said Pope Francis.

The Iraqi city of Ur, Prophet Abraham’s homeland, a place where people refused to worship idols instead of one god, is the same city that has not had electricity and basic services for the 6,000 years before Pope Francis’ visit. It is an example that reflects the extent of the suffering that the people of Iraq have endured because of the failures of the successive governments that had their hands on Iraq’s oil revenues without providing basic services, except during such major events. Only then, roads get paved, walls get painted, streets get cleaned, and get their light service back for three days after years of dimness during the rule of past governments.

The Pope’s visit comes at a critical time. Despite the Pope’s old age and the coronavirus outbreak, the security risks, the missiles and shells raining down on airports and sensitive sites in Iraq, he insisted on making the visit that had been postponed for twenty years since the time of his predecessor Pope John Paul II.

While shedding light on the suffering of the Christian minority is among the main objectives of the Pope’s visit, he also seeks to shed light on the suffering of all Iraqis equally and put Iraq in the spotlight, a country that has been in turmoil since the 2003 US invasion, as well as Iran and its militias’ attacks on the center of Al-Rashid and the cradle of the Abbasid Caliphate and the Mesopotamian civilization.

The Pope will also meet Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, to be on the same page with all Muslim sects, as he had previously met with Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo and the United Arab Emirates, signing the Document on Human Fraternity together.

Pope Francis also seeks to reassure the Christians of Iraq, who include the Chaldean Catholics, which is the largest sect in Iraq, followed by Assyrian, and finally, Armenians. Large numbers of Christians had fled Iraq seeking better livelihood even before ISIS occupied large swaths of Iraq’s territory- though Christians were not the only target by ISIS which killed more Muslims under the pretext of apostasy.

The Pope undoubtedly deserves credit for the courage of the visit, both for the timing and destination. The visit reflects Pope Francis’s positive spirit, a spirit of fraternity and coexistence that rebukes clashes of religion and civilization.

Pope Francis’s visit to Iraq, the cradle of Arab and Islamic civilization and the former center of the historical caliphate, is a message of reconciliation and brotherhood with Muslims and reassurance and solidarity with Christians.

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