3 March 2021 — With great joy, Pax Christi International (PCI) looks forward to the visit of Pope Francis to Iraq, which will take place from 5 to 8 March 2021 in Ur of the Chaldeans in the land of Abraham. He will bring a message of hope, dialogue, and peace in keeping with his latest encyclical Fratelli Tutti.
The destructive violence of ISIS has swept the region. Wars have shown the interests of foreign powers. Forces that are aggravating divisions along ethnic and religious lines fuel hatred and devastation. Dialogue and perseverance in a common search for truth stand as an alternative to the war, violence, and fundamentalism that have devastated the people and communities in the region. As a cradle of civilisation, Iraq has a richness of ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity reaching back thousands of years.
We express new hope that his meeting with leaders of other traditions and religions in Ur of the Chaldeans will help us to rediscover the common roots of faith. These offer each community the needed conditions for a future of peace and reconciliation.
For many years, PCI and several of its members have cultivated close bonds of friendship and solidarity with Iraq through numerous solidarity visits and campaigns. In 2009 His Eminence Louis Raphaël I Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans and head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, welcomed a PCI delegation to Iraq, including Bishop Emeritus Marc Stenger (Co-President, PCI) and Marie Dennis (past Co-President, PCI). They witnessed the courage of many who promote dialogue, reconciliation, and nonviolence.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fragile security situation, Pope Francis’ visit to Iraq is in itself a powerful nonviolent action. It pushes back violence and makes more visible Iraqis of all faiths who are striving for just peace.
His trip reminds us of the long list of violence and wars that have affected communities in Iraq, resulting in deaths and displacement of thousands. There have been long lasting sanctions punishing ordinary people, bombs with depleted uranium and white phosphorus, environmental devastation, destruction of infrastructures, killings and kidnappings by ISIS that have trapped women in sexual slavery. As witnessed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad of the Yazidi minority, they are victims even today…
More on the Pope’s visit to Iraq: