By Andrea Tornielli
The future of peace in Iraq has the face of Rafah Hussein Baher, an Iraqi woman of the Mandaean religion, who has seen her children and brothers flee their country ravaged by violence and terrorism. It was she who addressed Pope Francis with the words: “Blessed is he who eradicates fear from souls… Your Holiness, you now sow seeds of love and happiness. By the strength of the motto of your visit — You are all brothers — hereby I declare, I will remain in the land of my ancestors...”
The future of peace in Iraq is also in the faces of Davide and Hasan, one a Christian, the other a Muslim, fellow students and friends. They have leased a clothes store together to pay for their school expenses. They tell the Pope, “We would like many other Iraqis to have the same experience.”
Iraq’s future of peace has the face of Najay, a Mandaean man from Basra, who gave his life to save the life of his Muslim neighbor.
Iraq’s future of peace can only be built together, because, as Pope Francis explains, just as the desert wind with its load of fine sand tousles the hair and headdresses of the religious leaders gathered in Ur, “There will be no peace as long as we see others as them and not us.”
From the place where writing was born, among the stones mixed with mud and sand that once built what, two thousand years before the birth of Jesus, was the largest and most populous city in the world and where Abraham’s journey to the promised city began, Pope Francis indicated the only possible way for Iraq to emerge from insecurity, divisions, hatred and fanaticism: the path of true religiosity: “to adore God and love one’s neighbor.” There will be no peace, the Pope said, “as long as our alliances are against others, for alliances of some against others only increase divisions.” And peace “does not demand winners or losers, but rather brothers and sisters who, for all the misunderstandings and hurts of the past, are journeying from conflict to unity.” It is a message for the martyred Iraq, it is a message for the martyred Syria, for the entire Middle East and for the whole world. Because history can be changed “with the humble power of love,” as Pope Francis said at the end of the day in his homily of the Divine Liturgy celebrated in the Chaldean rite at St Joseph’s Cathedral in Baghdad. It is not a utopia. That helpless force is a reality already in place, witnessed by the faces of Rafah, David, Hasan, Najay and the many artisans of peace of whom no one will ever speak, but whose names are written in the heart of God.