What a beautiful moment for Iraqi Christians as the Vicar of Christ comes and gives a sense of peace and joy to all the persecuted people in this historic country. Pope Francis had many wonderful things to say to the people, especially to the Chaldean Catholics. I wanted to put together some uplifting words from Pope Francis and here are some quotes from this historic trip;
- “The love of Christ summons us to set aside every kind of self-centredness or competition; it impels us to universal communion and challenges us to form a community of brothers and sisters who accept and care for one another. Here I think of the familiar image of a carpet. The different Churches present in Iraq, each with its age-old historical, liturgical, and spiritual patrimony, are like so many individual colored threads that, woven together, make up a single beautiful carpet, one that displays not only our fraternity but points also to its source. For God himself is the artist who imagined this carpet, patiently wove it and carefully mends it, desiring us ever to remain closely knit as his sons and daughters.
- Let me mention once more our brothers and sisters who died in the terrorist attack in this Cathedral some ten years ago and whose cause for beatification is underway. Their deaths are a powerful reminder that inciting war, hateful attitudes, violence or the shedding of blood are incompatible with authentic religious teachings. I also want to remember all the victims of violence and persecution, regardless of the religious group to which they belong.”
Mass at the Chaldean Cathedral of St. Joseph – Baghdad
- “The poor, those who mourn, the persecuted are all called blessed. How is this possible? For the world, it is the rich, the powerful, and the famous who are blessed! It is those with wealth and means who count! But not for God: It is no longer the rich that are great, but the poor in spirit; not those who can impose their will on others, but those who are gentle with all. Not those acclaimed by the crowds, but those who show mercy to their brother and sisters. At this point, we may wonder: if I live as Jesus asks, what do I gain? Don’t I risk letting others lord it over me? Is Jesus’ invitation worthwhile, or a lost cause? That invitation is not worthless, but wise.”
- “We experience trials, and we frequently fall, but let us not forget that, with Jesus, we are blessed. Whatever the world takes from us is nothing compared to the tender and patient love with which the Lord fulfills his promises.
- Dear sister, dear brother, perhaps when you look at your hands they seem empty, perhaps you feel disheartened and unsatisfied by life. If so, do not be afraid: the Beatitudes are for you. For you who are afflicted, who hunger and thirst for justice, who are persecuted. The Lord promises you that your name is written on his heart, written in heaven!”
- Jesus’ invitation is wise because love, which is the heart of the Beatitudes, even if it seems weak in the world’s eyes, in fact always triumphs. On the cross, it proved stronger than sin, in the tomb, it vanquished death. That same love made the martyrs victorious in their trials – and how many martyrs have there been in the last century, more even than in the past! Love is our strength, the source of strength for those of our brothers and sisters who here too have suffered prejudice and indignities, mistreatment, and persecutions for the name of Jesus.
Prayer of Suffrage for the Victims of the War – Mosul
- “Today we raise our voices in prayer to Almighty God for all the victims of war and armed conflict. Here in Mosul, the tragic consequences of war and hostility are all too evident. How cruel it is that this country, the cradle of civilization, should have been afflicted by so barbarous a blow, with ancient places of worship destroyed and many thousands of people – Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, and others – forcibly displaced or killed! 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.”
- Before we pray in this city of Mosul for all the victims of war, in Iraq and in the entire Middle East, I would like to share with you these thoughts:
If God is the God of life – for so he is – then it is wrong for us to kill our brothers and sisters in his Name.
If God is the God of peace – for so he is – then it is wrong for us to wage war in his Name.
If God is the God of love – for so he is – then it is wrong for us to hate our brothers and sisters.
Let us now join in praying for all the victims of war. May Almighty God grant them eternal life and unending peace, and welcome them into his fatherly embrace. Let us pray too for ourselves. May all of us – whatever our religious tradition – live in harmony and peace, conscious that in the eyes of God, we are all brothers and sisters.
Visit to the Qaraqosh Community
- “Forgiveness is necessary to remain in love, to remain Christian. The road to a full recovery may still be long, but I ask you, please, not to grow discouraged. What is needed is the ability to forgive, but also the courage not to give up. I know that this is very difficult. But we believe that God can bring peace to this land. We trust in him and, together with all people of goodwill, we say ‘no’ to terrorism and the manipulation of religion.
- At the end of the gathering, Pope Francis signed the Cathedral’s guest book:
“From this Church, destroyed and rebuilt, a symbol of the hope of Qaraqosh and of all Iraq,I ask of God, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the gift of peace.
At the conclusion of Mass in Erbil, the Holy Father delivered a special greeting;
- “Now the time draws near for my return to Rome. Yet Iraq will always remain with me, in my heart. I ask all of you, dear brothers and sisters, to work together in unity for a future of peace and prosperity that leaves no one behind and discriminates against no one. I assure you of my prayers for this beloved country. In a particular way, I pray that the members of the various religious communities, together with all men and women of goodwill, may work together to forge bonds of fraternity and solidarity in the service of the common good and of peace salam, salam, salam!. Sukrán [Thank you]! May God bless you all! May God bless Iraq! Allah ma’akum! [God be with you!]”