After the historic trip to Iraq, the Pope continued his catechesis at the general audience on Wednesday, March 10. He was also able to speak about the days spent in the land of Abraham.
A grateful pilgrimage...
"In recent days," the Pope began, "divine Providence has granted me to visit Iraq, a land devastated by war and terrorism, carrying out a project of St. John Paul II. I am very grateful to the Lord and to all those who made this visit possible: to the government, to the pastors and faithful of the various Catholic Churches, and to the authorities of other religious traditions, beginning with the Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani, with whom I had a cordial meeting. It was a pilgrimage under the sign of hope, reconciliation and fraternity".
Francis wanted to underline his solidarity and association with the Iraqi people, especially in their pain and suffering that they have endured for years: "In the name of the whole Catholic Church, I wanted to associate myself with the cross that this suffering people and this martyred Church have carried for years of terror, violence and forced exile. Seeing the wounds of destruction, meeting and hearing the witnesses, victims of so many atrocities, I felt the strong penitential meaning of this pilgrimage".
In this country, as in the whole world, the answer to war and violence can only be fraternity.
"And at the same time," the Pope continued, "I perceived the joy of the Iraqis who welcomed me as a messenger of Christ, and their hope, open to a horizon of peace and fraternity. Iraq, a people with millenary roots, has the right to live in peace and to recover its dignity".
Fraternity is the answer
As he said at the interreligious meeting held on the plains of Ur, Pope Francis once again recalled that "in this country, as in the whole world, the response to war and violence can only be the fraternity. For this purpose Muslims, Christians and representatives of other religions met and prayed together in Ur, and the Lord's affirmation resounded strongly in our hearts: You are all brothers! That same message of brotherhood was also palpable in all the other meetings I had in Baghdad, Mosul, Qaraqosh and Erbil, with the faithful of the various traditions."