Pope Francis thanks Iraqis for historic visit
Iraqis deserve to live in peace, pontiff says.
Pope Francis thanked the people of Iraq on Wednesday for allowing him to make his historic trip to the country, saying Iraqis deserve to live in peace.
In his weekly audience, the 84-year-old pope reflected on the packed three-day programme that saw him travel throughout Iraq last weekend, offering encouragement to persecuted Christians and extending a hand to Shiite Muslims.
"After this visit, my soul is filled with gratitude -- gratitude to God and to all those who made it possible," he said, citing political and religious leaders.
These include top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, "with whom I had an unforgettable meeting".
He said he heard first-hand of "wounds still open" from the destruction wrought on Christian communities, which have been decimated after decades of conflict.
"The Iraqi people have the right to live in peace. They have the right to rediscover the dignity that belongs to them."
He condemned the "monster" of war, adding: "I ask myself, who sells arms to terrorists? Today, who sells them to terrorists?
"They are waging wars in other places as well, in Africa, and it's a question that I want an answer to."
But he noted that Iraqis "are trying hard to rebuild. The Muslims are inviting the Christians to return and together they are restoring churches and mosques. Fraternity is there".
Two-week ban imposed after surge in coronavirus infections. READ MORE
Decision has been deferred for the time being, not overturned... READ MORE
Kim Min-kyo plays video games for up to 15 hours a day. READ MORE
International powers pile pressure on military by hitting its... READ MORE
Authorities said a total of 9,005,444 doses had been distributed till ... READ MORE
The kingdom's moon sighting committee had met earlier today to spot... READ MORE
Residents respond to Sheikh Mohammed's call to feed the needy. READ MORE
Meghan will not attend as she had been advised not to travel by her... READ MORE