By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ
Pope Francis’ historic Apostolic Journey to Iraq is “an important moment for the world and a true promotion of the values advocated by the document on human fraternity,” affirmed the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity in a statement.
The Higher Committee noted that during his four-day trip to the Middle Eastern nation, Pope Francis visited a number of Iraqi cities, including Baghdad, Najaf, Erbil and Mosul. The Pope also attended a meeting for interfaith dialogue in Ur and, in a speech there, emphasized the importance of promoting human fraternity and called on believers to revive the values of human fraternity.
Pope’s visit fosters peace, cultural dialogue
Pope Francis aims to “promote cultural dialogue and a culture of convergence and inclusiveness so that everyone in our society can enjoy peace in his life regardless of his race, culture or religion,” said Cardinal Miguel Ayuso Guixot.
The Cardinal accompanied the Pope on his visit to Iraq, and is President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and a member of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity.
Prof. Mohamed al-Mahrasawi, President of the Al-Azhar University and member of the Higher Committee, said that Pope Francis’ visit provided healing for the wounds of the Iraqi people after years of wars and destruction.
He said it would act as a call for tolerance and convergence on the values of citizenship and coexistence between all Iraqis and all peoples of the region. The professor added tolerance is the best response to the calls for hatred and extremism that took the lives of many and displaced millions of innocent people.
Principles of human fraternity
Praising the results of the papal visit to Iraq, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism, also a member of the Higher Committee, emphasized that the Pope’s keenness to complete the visit reflects his belief in the need to apply the principles of human fraternity.
The visit, he noted, is “a practical application of the fraternity document and an example of what human fraternity can achieve in the face of calls for division, hatred and extremism.”
For his part, the Secretary-General of the Higher Committee, Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam, stressed that the Pope’s presence in Iraq brought to light the religious and cultural diversity in Iraq and the region. It also showed how this diversity could be a way for achieving peace and cohesion among communities.
He further highlighted that the visit carried a powerful message that the whole world should support victims of war and extremism and not abandon them under any circumstances.
Judge Abdelsalam also said the Higher Committee will prepare a study on the results of the Pope’s visit, and will depend on it in its future plans and programs, to the benefit of all Iraqis.