Washington: US President Joe Biden on Monday hailed Pope Francis’ first-ever papal visit to visit to Iraq and historic meeting with the country’s top Shiite cleric as a symbol of hope for nations around the world.
“To see Pope Francis visit ancient religious sites, including the biblical birthplace of Abraham, spend time with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf, and offer prayers in Mosul – a city that only a few years ago endured the depravity and intolerance of a group like ISIS – is a symbol of hope for the entire world,” Biden said in a statement.
Pope Francis began historic papal visit to Iraq on Friday with a focus on rallying the country’s Christian community and preaching religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
“Iraq is a country steeped in religious and ethnic diversity. It’s also home to one of the oldest and most diverse Christian communities in the world,” Biden said. “Pope Francis’ visit was a historic and welcome first for the country. It sent an important message, as Pope Francis said himself, that ‘fraternity is more durable than fratricide, that hope is more powerful than death, that peace more powerful than war.’”
Iraqi authorities declared March 6 as the National Day of Tolerance and Coexistence after Pope Francis met with Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani in the city of Najaf during his historic first-ever visit to the Middle Eastern country, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said on Saturday.
Ahead of the visit, the Pope said he would come to the country as a messenger of peace to pray for reconciliation after years of war and terrorism, which have plagued Iraq. (Sputnik)