Pope Francis visits Iraq’s ruined city of Mosul

Posted 38 days ago


MOSUL, Iraq – Muslim and Christian residents of Mosul told Pope Francis of their lives under the brutal rule of Islamic State on Sunday as the pontiff blessed their vow to rise up from ashes, telling them that “fraternity is more durable than fratricide.”

Francis, on a historic trip to Iraq, flew into the Mosul by helicopter to encourage the binding of sectarian wounds and to pray for the dead of any religion.

The 84-year-old pope walked past ruins of houses and churches to a square that was once the thriving centre of the old town. The northern city was occupied by Islamic State from 2014 to 2017.

“Together we say no to fundamentalism. No to sectarianism and no to corruption,” the Chaldean archbishop of Mosul, Najeeb Michaeel, told the pope. Francis sat on a white chair surrounded by skeletons of buildings and dangling staircases.

Mosul’s Old City is home to ancient churches and mosques that were destroyed in 2017 during the bloody battle by Iraqi forces and an international military coalition to drive out Islamic State.

Corruption and infighting among Iraqi politicians still slow efforts to rebuild Mosul and large parts of the city remain in ruins.

The pope, visibly moved by the devastation around him, prayed for all of Mosul’s dead.

“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,” he said.

“Today, however, we reaffirm our conviction that fraternity is more durable than fratricide, tha... (Read more)