From 5-8 March, His Holiness Pope Francis travelled to Iraq for his first apostolic journey after the coronavirus crisis. On March 7th, he celebrated the mass for thousands of people in the Franso Hariri Stadium in Erbil. The significance of his visit is of enormous importance not only for the Christian communities in Iraq, who have greatly sufferend at the hands of ISIS, but for the whole population of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, as the Pope reminds everyone that we must build a peaceful world.
Here the remarks by President Nechirvan Barzani:
I thank all religious and ethnic communities in Kurdistan who took part in the reception ceremony and hosting of His Holiness, particularly the Muslim religious leaders and representatives of all other religious groups in Kurdistan and Iraq. They demonstrated the richness of Kurdistan’s culture, which is rooted in tolerance, fraternity and mutual respect among all its communities.
The only path towards healing the wounds of war and violence in Iraq, as His Holiness rightly pointed out in the Holy Mass in Erbil, is “tolerance, forgiveness and kindness which God expects from all of us.” As His Holiness emphasized, “God wants the heart to be cleaned, it must be purified from the falsehoods that stain it, from the duplicity of hypocrisy” and “revenge, which plunges us into a spiral of endless retaliation.”
We in the Kurdistan Region fully support His Holiness’ message of peace, tolerance, coexistence, and mutual respect, away from hatred, extremism, terror and revenge. These values are the pillars of the Kurdistani society and we continue to preserve them. I hope that, in both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, we resolve the disagreements with the spirit and power of these values and messages of peace and tolerance.
I thank the cooperation between Iraq’s Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government and all the relevant authorities which arranged this historic visit, in terms of protocol, organization and security, with excellence.
Kurdistan Region President