This week marked the first time that a head of the Roman Catholic Church has visited Iraq. In what Pope Francis described as “a duty to a land martyred for many years”, the trip comes as the country suffers from ongoing violent clashes.
Pope Francis traversed through Najav on Saturday to visit Ur, the ancient birthplace of the Prophet Abraham – the common patriarch of three of the world’s most major religions.
During his address at the historical event, the pontiff condemned violence in the name of God as “the greatest blasphemy”.
Francis sat alongside Muslim, Christian, and Yazidi leaders, shadowed by the archaeological dig of a 4,000-year-old city that makes up a pyramid-style Ziggurat, a housing complex, as well as temples and palaces.
He stressed that “believers cannot be silent when terrorism abuses religion; indeed, we are called unambiguously to dispel all misunderstandings”.
At Ur, Francis praised Muslims for supporting Christians in repairing their churches “when terrorism invaded the north of this beloved country”.
Rafah Husein Baher, a member of the Mandaean religious community, thanked the pope for making the trip amid the precarious situation in the country, including rising COVID-19 cases and rocket fire and suicide bomb attacks.
Francis later attended an evening service at Baghdad’s Chaldean Cathedral of Saint Joseph, where he paid tribute to “those of our brothers and sisters…