After declaring that he returned from his unprecedented trip to Iraq with “a soul full of gratitude,” Pope Francis delivered a speech questioning arms manufacturers around the world on their responsibilities in supplying weapons to extremist groups.
“I was wondering [durante a viagem]: who sold the weapons to the terrorists? Who sells weapons to terrorists who now massacre elsewhere, for example in Africa? », Asked the pontiff, violating the protocol by not respecting the declaration previously prepared.
“This is a question I would like someone to answer,” added Francisco, who in the past has said that arms manufacturers and traffickers should one day answer God.
Last Sunday (7), Francisco visited Mosul, an Iraqi city reduced to rubble since it was occupied by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, which has tortured followers of other religions while maintaining the control of the region for three years, from 2014 to 2017..
Amid the ruins of houses and churches, the pontiff said a prayer for those killed in the conflict and repeated what was one of the main themes of his trip – extremism and violence are not tolerated in religion.
“War is still the monster that as times change, change and continue to devour humanity,” the Pope said Wednesday, during his weekly online hearing due to the coronavirus pandemic. “But the response to war is not another war, and the response to arms is not other weapons.”
For Francisco, the solution must be brotherhood, an ideal that represents a challenge for the whole world. “Will we be able to create brotherhood between us, create a culture of brothers? Or will we continue with the logic initiated by Cain?” Asked the head of the Catholic Church.
According to the book of Genesis, Cain, the son of Adam, was cursed by God and condemned to be a wandering man on Earth after killing his brother, Abel, out of jealousy.
Francisco described as “unforgettable” his meeting last Saturday (6) with the main Shiite Muslim cleric in Iraq, the great Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani. The compromise was seen as an attempt to strengthen the dialogue between the Catholic Church and Islam.
During his visit, the Pope sought to support Christians in the predominantly Shiite country, urged Iraqi leaders to protect all minority rights and sent a message that he himself is back on the world stage. after a year without leaving the Vatican because of the pandemic.
At the end of the conversation between the leaders, which lasted about 1 hour and was held behind closed doors, Al-Sistani declared his commitment to peace and security for Christians in the country, where they are to live. like all Iraqis, “in peace. and coexistence “.
“The Iraqi people have the right to live in peace, they have the right to regain their dignity. Its religious and cultural roots go back thousands of years: Mesopotamia is the cradle of civilization,” Francisco said Wednesday.
Currently, over 95% of Iraqis are Muslims, while only 1% identifies with different currents of Christianity. Despite this, Francisco’s visit to the country, a plan that his last two predecessors were unable to implement, had a symbolic weight which, according to the pontiff himself, represented “a duty with a land so martyred”.
The timing chosen by the Catholic leader, however, was the subject of several objections. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Iraq is currently going through one of its worst times of the pandemic.
On January 4, the moving average of new coronavirus infections was 834.4 per day. Two months later, the recorded number was 4,233.1 – equivalent to an increase of more than 407% in confirmed cases of the disease. As of Wednesday, the country has more than 740,000 cases and 13,645 deaths.
Authorities imposed a series of restrictions in an attempt to keep crowds out on the papal visit, such as the mandatory use of masks and limiting the public at a stadium where Francisco celebrated mass on Sunday (7).
On several occasions, however, the rules were ignored by the population, who saw the Pope’s presence as a unique opportunity that outweighed the risk of contamination.
“We don’t think about the coronavirus at a time like this. We have God on our side because the Pope is here!” Said Professor Gladys Koff, 33, surrounded by her teenage students, with at least 10,000 people who attended the stadium in Arbil, capital of Kurdistan, a region partially autonomous from the central government of Iraq.