By Abiola Olawale
President Joe Biden, on Monday, lauded Pope Francis’s visit to Iraq, describing the visit as a “symbol of hope for the entire world.”
Pope Francis landed in Iraq on Friday, marking the first time there has been a papal visit to the country.
The purpose of his visit was to offer encouragement to Iraq’s Christian population which has faced persecution by the Islamic State group.
During his visit, Pope Francis met with religious leaders of Iraq, Representatives from Islam, Christianity, Yazidis, Mandaeans, among others were present at the religious meeting with Pope Francis. The purpose of the meeting is believed to discuss and find solutions to the religious crisis and persecution of the minority-christian population in the country.
The pontiff also visited several places where war had erupted years ago.
However, President Biden, in a statement released on Monday, commended the commitment of Pope Francis in promoting religious tolerance, understanding and unity.
The President also appreciated the Iraq government for making the trip of Pope Francis possible amid the Covid-19 pandemic situation and security concerns.
The statement reads, “Pope Francis’ visit was a historic and a 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. 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. I congratulate the Government and people of Iraq for the care and planning that went into organizing this monumental visit, and continue to admire Pope Francis for his commitment to promoting religious tolerance, the common bonds of our humanity, and interfaith understanding.”
Meanwhile, Pope Francis, on Monday, wrapped up his 4-day historic visit to Iraq.
The pontiff was seen off with a farewell ceremony organized by Barham Salih, President of Iraq, at the Baghdad International Airport, Iraq.