Vatican City, Mar 4, 2021 / 04:00 am
A day before he departs for Baghdad, Pope Francis sent a video message to the Iraqi people, saying that he was coming to Iraq as “a pilgrim of peace.”
“I am coming as a pilgrim, as a penitent pilgrim, to implore from the Lord forgiveness and reconciliation after years of war and terrorism, to beg from God the consolation of hearts and the healing of wounds,” the pope said in the video message released March 5.
“Yes, I am coming as a pilgrim of peace, seeking fraternity and prompted by the desire to pray together and to walk together, also with our brothers and sisters of other religious traditions, in the steps of Father Abraham, who joins in one family Muslims, Jews and Christians,” he said.
Pope Francis expressed his desire to see his “dear brothers and sisters in Iraq” and to visit “an ancient and extraordinary cradle of civilization.”
The pope said that he felt “honored to meet a martyr Church,” and expressed gratitude to Christians in Iraq “who have witnessed to their faith in Jesus in the midst of very hard trials.”
“You still have in your eyes the images of destroyed houses and desecrated churches, and in your heart the wounds of affections left behind and abandoned houses,” he said.
“I would like to bring you the affectionate caress of the whole Church, which is close to you and to the tormented Middle East and encourages you to move forward.”
In the video message to the Iraqi people, Pope Francis said two phrases in Arabic: “As-salamu alaykum,” which means “peace be upon you” and “shukran,” which means “thank you.”