In his latest in-flight news conference, Pope Francis said Monday he’s not afraid to be called a ‘heretic’ for engaging in dialogue with Muslims; that he felt “imprisoned” during COVID-19 lockdowns; he was “shocked” by the destruction he witnessed in the Iraqi city of Mosul March 7; and, on international Women’s Day, expressed regret over the exploitation of women, including the practice of genital mutilation.
Pope Francis’ historic visit to the Middle East’s most conflict-riven nation gives hope and comfort to Iraqis of all faiths, and some would even say to Arabs beyond Iraq’s borders.
Although the impact of papal trips is often hard to assess in the immediate aftermath, such cautions mean little to the leader of Iraq’s local Catholic church, who quickly proclaimed Pope Francis’s March 5-8 visit to his nation a “miracle” on Sunday.
Having witnessed or even experienced persecution for their faith, the Christians of Iraq must be careful not to harbor thoughts of revenge, Pope Francis told them.
Every papal trip is, in a sense, an exercise in storytelling. A pope chooses to travel to a given destination in part because he believes it has a story the world needs to hear, and, for a few days, he lends it his spotlight, so the global media pay attention.
I am grateful to the Lord for the opportunity to be among you this morning. I have looked forward to this time together. I thank His Beatitude Patriarch Ignace Youssif Younan for his words of welcome, and Mrs Doha Sabah Abdallah and Father Ammar Yako for their testimonies.
Representatives of different religions who attended the inter religious meeting in Ur shared their impressions of the pontiff’s s presence in their country.
As children of Abraham, Jews, Christians and Muslims, together with other believers and all persons of good will, we thank you for having given us Abraham, a distinguished son of this noble and beloved country, to be our common father in faith.
This blessed place brings us back to our origins, to the sources of God’s work, to the birth of our religions. Here, where Abraham our father lived, we seem to have returned home. It was here that Abraham heard God’s call; it was from here that he set out on a journey that would change history.
Flanked by the pictures of 48 Iraqi martyrs, Pope Francis defined them as a reminder that inciting war and violence is incompatible with authentic religious teaching.