On Friday, Pope Francis arrived in Iraq on a historic visit as the first pope to travel to the Middle Eastern country – giving a message of religious tolerance to the world.
He was greeted at the Baghdad International Airport by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and celebrated upon his arrival.
During his 4-day visit, the head of the Vatican will tour excavations of biblical sites and visit churches where Christians suffered terrorist attacks, according to EWTN Vatican.
On Saturday, Pope Francis will meet with Iraq’s top Shia cleric, Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani.
Despite being a predominantly Muslim country today, Iraq, formally Mesopotamia, has a rich and profound Christian history. However, Iraqi Christians, who have lived in the country their whole lives, have experienced terror and torture at the hands of religious extremists.
“I come as a penitent, asking forgiveness of heaven and my brothers and sisters for so much destruction and cruelty. I come as a pilgrim of peace in the name of Christ, the Prince of Peace,” Pope Francis said.
“May the clash of arms be silenced! May their spread be curbed, here and everywhere! May the voice of builders and peacemakers find a hearing! The voice of the humble, the poor, the ordinary men and women who want to live, work and pray in peace,” he said prayerfully, urging the end of violence and extremism, factions and intolerance.
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