Reflecting on the Pope’s visit to Iraq

Pope Francis’ visit to Iraq in March is historic It is the first of its kind, reflecitng his belief in human brotherhood. Op-ed.

Dr. Salem AlKetbi ,

Israeli FB page reaches out to Iraq
Israeli FB page reaches out to Iraq
ILTV

The recent visit of Pope Francis to Iraq is undoubtedly one of the most important global and regional events of recent months. The visit took place amidst an ocean of anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus and the impact of this epidemic, which has claimed millions of lives worldwide.

But there is reason for hope and optimism: the universal symbols, who believe in human and civilizational values and are keen to inculcate and spread them around the world, are true to their principles.

From Baghdad to Mosul, passing through Najaf, Bakhdida and Erbil, Pope Francis wanted to put Iraq back in the center of the good news, instead of what people have been used to for many years: a scene of bombing, violence, bloodshed and other heartbreaking sights.

The visit is a reason for the world to see a real picture of Iraq and Iraqis. Joy reigned throughout Mesopotamia. The visit of the Pontifex Maximus was an affirmation that Iraq would be a homeland for all its citizens, provided that the wills are united and the hands of the Iranian plotters are wrested away from this great country.

The Pope was able to convey his message and make his voice heard by the whole world. Millions of people have already seen what violence and terror have done to Mosul, just as they have admired the young Iraqis who dream of a better future in a country rich in history among civilizations.

His meeting with the prominent Shiite authority Ali Al Sistani reflects his belief in the need for dialogue between religions and sects and is a true embodiment of the concept of human brotherhood.

His meeting with representatives of all Iraqi communities in Ur, the birthplace of Father Abraham (Peace be upon him), a historical site with strong human connotations, was an important step in many respects.

It was part of efforts to restore the cohesion of the Iraqi people, to give Iraqi leaders a significant impetus to carry out efforts to restore national unity, to build bridges of human solidarity and join hands to rebuild their country, to put an end to the suffering of displaced persons and migrants, and to establish security throughout Iraq.

The pope’s message for Iraq is that brotherhood is more lasting than fighting, hope “more powerful than hatred, and peace more powerful than war.”

The message of peace he believes in was made concrete by the signing of the Document on Human Brotherhood for World Peace and Living Together with the Grand Imam Sheikh of Al Azhar, Dr. Ahmed Al Tayeb in Abu Dhabi in February 2019, in the presence of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Prime Minister, Ruler of Dubai, and his brother, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.

Although Pope Francis is a religious as well as political figure, I do not want this historic visit to Iraq to be colored with political overtones that could compromise its noble human and civilized aspects. The Pope’s background and positions set him apart from any theory that some people might invoke in their analysis of the visit.

This is especially true given that we live in a region steeped in conspiracy theories. Pope Francis’ visit to Iraq in early March is a truly historic event. This is not only because it is the first of its kind. It is also because it reflects the rare courage of a man who believes in real human brotherhood and who is keen to defend this principle.

This is to the point that he is visiting places and regions where visits under the current security conditions seem to be an unsafe venture in the eyes of the majority of leaders, both political and religious.

The visit took place in the midst of a coronavirus epidemic. It was preceded by a suicide bombing and a rocket attack on a base in Erbil, one of the stops on the visit. It was also preceded by the infection of the Pope’s ambassador to Iraq, Mitja Leskovar, with the coronavirus.

The visit also reflects the depth of the pope’s faith in his role and mission, which places principles and values, as well as the problems of poverty, marginalization and deprivation at the forefront of his concerns. His message has brought about a qualitative change in the role of the Vatican and in its relations with the followers of other religions.

This is of great help to the Arab and Islamic nations, which are struggling against the ploys and conflicts that target their social fabric and seek to undermine their national unity by using narrow and unpatriotic sectarian and religious interpretations.

The Pope’s visit to Iraq took place under the slogan “Fratelli tutti.” This is a motto in harmony with the message of Pope Francis and an extension of the document of human brotherhood.

Overall, I am certain that this visit, given the time and circumstances, illustrates Pope Francis’ courage and depth of faith in universal human principles.

Iraq may be in urgent need of reuniting its communities and citizens under the banner of the homeland, so that it can once again become a land of science, culture and progress and resume its role in the enrichment and development of human civilization.

Iraq, the cradle of religions and civilizations, needs peace and coexistence among all. This need must be in the heart of every Iraqi and Arab as it is in the heart of Pope Francis.

Dr. Salem AlKetbi is a UAE political analyst and former Federal National Council candidate



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