News – PH – Interview: What can you expect when Pope Francis makes his historic trip to Iraq?

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Despite significant risks related to security and pandemic, Pope till 8 March visit Iraq. He will “comfort and encourage” Catholics, Christians and other religious minorities, as well as the people of this Muslim-majority country that has suffered so much from war, terrorism and persecution. He will promote peace and “provide a concrete road map for the future of interfaith relations and for the future of the world offer ”

That said Cardinal Leonardi Sandri, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Oriental Churches, America in an hour-long interview in his office on February 8 The Argentine-born Cardinal visited Iraq in 2012 and 2015 and becomes Francis there Accompanying the first visit of a Pope to a country which the cardinal called “land of martyrs”

“The visit carries risks and the Pope takes the risks because he sees himself as a pastor, as a father, as someone who goes to someone who is in trouble,” said the cardinal. “As for safety, I believe the Iraqi government will take all measures to ensure the visit goes quietly, realizing that members of the Islamic State have started regrouping under the guise of the pandemic when the Americans pull back and carry out suicide bombings in Baghdad have

Pope Francis will be from 5 till 8 March visit Iraq. He will “comfort and encourage” the Catholics, Christians and other religious minorities as well as the people of this predominantly Muslim country

The Pope, said Cardinal Sandri, is more concerned about the pandemic than about his own safety: “[Francis] says: ‘If I go and many people come to greet me, it causes contagion; I don’t want thatAfter this interview was conducted, the Iraqi government imposed a lockdown that should last from February 18 till 8 They later changed the end of the lockdown to March 4th to curb the spread of Covid-19 March – the day before the Pope’s arrival

He described the visit of Francis as “in continuity” with the request of Pope John Paul II, the Ur – the homeland of Abraham, which is considered the father of faith in one God in Judaism, Christianity and Islam – wanted to visit the great anniversary year 2000 but could not

Cardinal Sandri recalled that John Paul II In 2003, when he was Chief of Staff of the State Secretariat of the Vatican, he did everything possible to prevent the war against Iraq He sent Cardinal Roger Etchegeray to speak to President Saddam Hussein and Cardinal Pio Laghi to speak to President George W. to speak to Bush, but “he couldn’t stop the bombings”

The cardinal described Iraq as a “land of martyrdom” and spoke of how much it suffered from “terrorism, violence, bombings and persecution between the various components of Iraqi society”. He recalled that Pope Benedict XVI A Synod of Bishops for the Middle East was held that ended on October 30, 2010 and the following day, Oct. 31: “The Islamic State carried out a terrible attack in the Syro-Catholic Cathedral of Baghdad while people were praying and more than 50 people died in the explosion – priests, lay people and children”

The cardinal described Iraq as a “land of martyrdom” and spoke of how much it suffered from “terrorism, violence, bombings and persecution between the various components of Iraqi society” “

“The reason for her beatification is now open,” he said, and Pope Francis “will visit this cathedral and pay homage to these martyrs”

“[Francis] wants to bring comfort, closeness, brotherhood, openness and friendship to this people who have suffered so much, and to the Catholic Church and the Catholic Christians of this country who have suffered in ways that have decimated them “Said Cardinal Sandri He explained that these Christians are divided into different rites: Chaldeans, Syro-Catholics, Latin Americans, Armenians and Melchites There are also other Christians who are not Catholic, including members of the Syrian Orthodox Church of the East as well Lutherans and Anglicans

He remembered it in front of the US. Invaded in 2003 there were 15 million Iraqi Christians, but today there are no more than 500000 “The number is fluid,” he said. Other sources say 250000 to 300000

Although the cardinal realizes that the situation is “difficult”, he hopes that the exodus will not continue and that “the Middle East and Iraq will not be without Christians”

“It is also important,” he said, “Pope Francis wants to thank these bishops for the example they have set in remaining faithful to their ministry as pastors and not leaving their flock. They did not go away; They stayed there with their flock and resisted as best they could under the circumstances. They have set an example of the good shepherd throughout the Church ”

Cardinal Sandri said the Pope often speaks of “the martyrdom of Christians in the present era” and that “in some moments it is worse than the persecutions of the early days of Christianity”

Cardinal Sandri said the Pope often speaks of “the martyrdom of Christians in the present era” and that “in some moments it is worse than the persecutions of the early days of Christianity”

He recalled his first visit to Iraq in December 2012 on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI because of the rededication of the Syro-Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad, which was destroyed in the terrorist attack. From there, he traveled to Kirkurk and Erbil in a truck protected by the armed forces

Upon arriving in Kirkurk, he said: “I met Bishop [Louis Raphaël I] Sako [now the Chaldean Patriarch] and the first thing he did was to take me to a meeting with the Sunni and Shiite Imams in the mosque. There were welcoming speeches to which I had to answer and they handed me a copy of the Koran. And then we could go to the cathedral – but first to the mosque ”

On that visit, he said: “For us it is a different world that is used to having the freedom to go, to come and to go. But there is a world of security while he is having mass with the Patriarch Concelebrated at Kirkurk Cathedral, there was a terrible explosion. About 12 miles away there was an attack that killed 40 people ”

On his second visit in 2015, he went to Dujoq, near Mosul, where he visited Christian refugees displaced by IS. He could not enter Mosul, which had not yet been liberated from IS. During this visit, he saw “The great importance of the generosity of the Catholic world [in helping these suffering Christians] He revealed that Pope Francis will highlight this generosity by inviting Regina Lynch, the project leader of Aid to the Church in Need, to accompany him on the plane

Cardinal Sandri emphasized that Pope Francis’ visit is not just for Catholics and other Christians It also has “an important dimension of interfaith dialogue with Muslims”

Cardinal Sandri emphasized that Pope Francis’ visit is not just for Catholics and other Christians It also has “an important dimension of interfaith dialogue with Muslims”

He said that Francis would not only “win the call of John Paul II to peace ”, but also the ideas from his encyclical“ Fratelli Tutti ”and the declaration on human brotherhood that he signed in Abu Dhabi with the Grand Imam of Al- Azhar In other words, the cardinal said, “He will present a declaration of peace and a concrete roadmap for the future of interreligious relations and for the future of the world”

The cardinal remarked: “We are always thinking of a new world of justice, a new earth, new heavens“However, this requires“ the possibility that all people can work together, regardless of their religion. But today we have – also thanks to the teaching office of Pope Francis – a greater social awareness, which is also reflected in the great personalities of politics and the world economy say we cannot continue down this path with all of the injustices and discrimination we have ”

He believes that “Pope Francis’ visit has a constitutional value for the future of the world, a project, a message that can be taken to get out of the abandonment of the present world with all its inequalities Injustice, poverty, discrimination and so on It is the road map for the future of humanity ”

Pope Francis will be born on 6 Travel to Najaf March to visit Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most revered authority not only for Iraqi Shiites (about 55 percent of Iraqi Muslims) but also for many other Muslims in this country and around the world. The cardinal didn’t know whether they will sign a document, but he said: “In any case, the document will be the photo of the two of them together, the meeting will be the message in itself”

Cardinal Sandri believes that Francis’ visit to Iraq is of tremendous importance as the Middle East is dominated by the presence of Islam in its various forms, including Sunnis, Shiites and other “It means” the Pope’s respect for Islam in a country in which Muslims have also become victims of this situation. Not only Catholics, but also many Muslims have suffered martyrdom through terrorism, internecine wars and divisions among one another In an attack in Baghdad, most [of the victims] are Muslims. The cardinal senses that the Pope’s respect for this Islam-dominated world creates a sense of openness to the Pope and friendship with the Catholic Church ”

Pope Francis is desperate to visit Iraq and the Iraqi government would very much like him to come. When asked to explain, the cardinal said, “Iraq must go to a stage where, because of all that Has happened to him due to wars, terrorism, persecution, is considered to be in a state of death, and to be able to say, ‘We are no longer The Pope’s visit has the connotation that the country is coming out of this state [of death] or came out of this “The Pope’s visit is a kind of postage stamp with the inscription” Come ‘”

The cardinal added, “So let’s hope that this comes true during the visit, that you respect the Pope and that nothing inconvenient happens for safety reasons”

When asked what he would consider a sign of a successful visit, Cardinal Sandri said he does not consider cheering crowds as an indicator of success and in no way does he expect to see this in Iraq any more than we have seen them, as John Paul II went to Greece. He sees rather “the fact that the Pope bows down in the name of the Church and, as representative of Christ, takes this suffering humanity on his shoulders and this weight, this people, which leads to a success that it is not of Crowds shown ”

Also, “it is a visit that has already opened doors,” he said, “and it has the opportunity to open even more doors to be the plan of God who desires us to live as brothers and sisters can”fulfilled”

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Vatican City, Pope Francis, Luis Antonio Tagle, Catholic Church, Administration of the Heritage of the Apostolic See, Cardinal, Roman Curia, Caritas Internationalis

News – PH – Interview: What to expect when Pope Francis makes his historic trip to Iraq

Source: https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2021/02/23/pope-francis-iraq-trip-cardinal-sandri-240091