Vatican City | Pope Francis assured Thursday in a message to the Iraqis that he was visiting their country as a “pilgrim of peace (…) after years of war and terrorism”.
“I come as a pilgrim (…) to implore forgiveness and reconciliation from the Lord after years of war and terrorism (…) and I come among you as a pilgrim of peace”, declared the Pope in this video message published on the eve of his departure.
“I will finally be at your place soon.” I so desire to meet you, to see your faces, to visit your land, ancient and extraordinary cradle of culture ”, continued the Pope.
Pope Francis also underlines his “desire to pray together (…) with the brothers and sisters of other religious traditions”, considering the Iraqi people as “a single family of Muslims, Jews and Christians”.
“You still have in your eyes the images of destroyed houses and desecrated churches, and in your heart the wounds caused by broken ties and abandoned houses,” he said in a part of his message addressed more specifically to Christians. present on Iraqi soil, evoking the “so many, too many martyrs that you have known”.
Pope Francis is expected in Baghdad on Friday and in Erbil (Iraqi Kurdistan) on Sunday, where he is due to celebrate mass in a stadium. He must also pass through Mosul, a former ISIS stronghold in the north where Hachd al-Chaabi factions are deployed.
The sovereign pontiff will be deprived of the crowd baths he likes because from Friday to Monday the country will be in total confinement. He is also likely to use an armored car for most of his travels.