At the conclusion of the Mass in Erbil, Pope Francis praised the generosity and heroic witness of the Iraqis, while thanking all who made his visit possible.
Vatican News Staff Editor
Pope Francis expressed his sincere gratitude to the local Church leaders in Erbil; Mar Gewargis III, Catholic Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East; Christians of various denominations; Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda; and to all the bishops, government and civil authorities, and to the many volunteers for their great welcome and help.
His Greetings came to the end of the mass celebrated on Sunday evening in the Erbil.
He cordially greeted the “beloved Kurdish people” and paid tribute to all Christians of various traditions, many of whom shed their blood here. “Yet our martyrs shine together like stars in the same sky!” said the Pope; and “from there they call us to walk together, without hesitation, towards the fullness of unity”.
While many shared testimonies of pain and loss, the Pope also highlighted the stories of “hope and consolation,” thanks especially to the “tireless charitable effort” of religious institutions of all religions that help in reconstruction and social rebirth. The Pope especially thanked the coordinating organization ROACO that represents Catholic aid agencies.
“Iraq will always remain with me, in my heart,” the Pope said, and encouraged everyone to “work together in unity for a future of peace and prosperity that leaves no one behind and does not discriminate against anyone.” He assured them of his prayer and called on all people of good will to “work together to forge bonds of fraternity and solidarity at the service of the common good and peace … May God bless you all! May God bless Iraq! ”