Pope prays for victims in Iraq’s devastated Mosul

Qaraqosh, Iraq, Mar 7 (efe-epa).- Pope Francis on Sunday prayed for all victims of the war against the Islamic State in the terror organization’s one-time bastion in northern Iraq, as part of his historic trip to the country.

Francis’ visit to Mosul that was seized by the Islamic State from 2014-2017 comes on the last day of the first-ever papal visit to Iraq.

“If God is the God of life, for so he is, then it is wrong for us to kill our brothers and sisters in his name,” the 84-year-olf pontiff said during the prayer at Hosh al-Bieaa Square, home to four heavily damaged churches in Old Mosul. “If God is the God of love – for so he is – then it is wrong for us to hate our brothers and sisters.”

“Here in Mosul, the tragic consequences of war and hostility are all too evident,” he said.

“How cruel it is that this country, the cradle of civilization, should have been afflicted by so barbarous a blow, with ancient places of worship destroyed and many thousands of people – Muslims, Christians, Yazidis and others – forcibly displaced or killed,” Francis added.

In 2013, there were about 1.4 million Christians in Iraq, but currently they range between 250,000 and 400,000 after years of war, instability, and persecution.

Francis arrived in Baghdad on Friday for a long-awaited trip, during which he has visited churches, met with the country’s top Shiite cleric, Ali al-Sistani, and held an interfaith meeting in the ancient city of Ur in southern Iraq.

Ur is mentioned in the Bible as the home of the prophet Abraham, the father of the three monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.EFE

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