Pope Francis to Iraqi emigrants: “If you can, return to your land”

Pope Francis during the General Audience shared his impressions of his recent intense trip to Iraq. He said it was a “penitential pilgrimage,” because he went to take upon himself the pain caused by war and terrorism.

The response to war is not another war. The response to weapons is not more weapons. I asked myself, “Who sold the terrorists their weapons? Who sells weapons today to the terrorists – which are causing massacres in other areas, let’s think of Africa, for example? ” The answer is not war. The answer is fraternity.

Pope Francis also lamented the destruction of Iraq’s cultural heritage and the expulsion of Christians and Yazidis, who risk losing their presence in the country.

That’s why he sent a message of encouragement to those who remained in Iraq and must now rebuild. To those who left he wished luck and expressed his hope that they will one day return to their land.

Thinking about the Iraqi emigrants, I would like to say to them, ‘You left everything behind, like Abraham. Like him, keep the faith and hope, be weavers of friendship and fraternity wherever you are. And if you can, return.’

The Church is also at risk of completely disappearing from the land of Abraham. If in the 1950s, Christians made up 12 percent of the total population, now they make up no more than one percent. That’s why Pope Francis thanked those who continue to help rebuild churches and houses in the region.

I thank you for your work of mercy in favor of Christians in Iraq, and especially in Mosul.

The pope also thanked the Iraqi government and Muslim authorities for ensuring a successful trip. He remembered in a particular way the kindness of the Grand Ayatollah, who met with him for nearly an hour.



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