Amid the ruins of Mosul, Pope Francis prays for the victims of the war in Iraq and across the Middle East.
By the editor of Vatican News
Pope Francis arrived at the Hosh al-Bieaa center in Mosul on Sunday morning where he prayed, among the ruins and with the Iraqi people, for all the victims of war in the country and throughout the Middle East.
Before addressing the small crowd gathered among the ruins of the four churches surrounding the meeting place, Pope Francis was greeted by the Archbishop of Mosul, Najeeb Michaeel. He then heard the testimony of a Catholic priest and a Sunni Muslim, victims of the terror raging in the city of Mosul.
Before his prayer, the Pope shared his own reflections, centered on three main ideas:
If God is the God of life – for he is – then it is wrong for us to kill our brothers and sisters in His Name.
If God is the God of peace – for he is – then it is wrong for us to wage war in His Name.
If God is the God of love – because he is – then it is bad for us to hate our brothers and sisters.
Then the Holy Father invited all those present, from near and far, to “pray together for all the victims of the war”, and for ourselves. “May we all,” he added, “whatever our religious tradition, live in harmony and peace, aware that in the eyes of God we are all brothers and sisters.
Pope Francis then recited his prayer. He prayed to God that “beyond the sea of suffering and death, beyond all temptations of violence, injustice and unjust gain”, he could accompany his sons and daughters with the tender love of a Father.
He noted that we have “often forgotten your advice of peace and harmony” and have sometimes shown indifference. After a brief moment of silence, the Pope asked: “Teach us to understand that you have entrusted to us your project of love, peace and reconciliation, and have entrusted us with carrying it out in our time, in the short lapse of time. long our earthly lives. ”
He concluded with a prayer both for the deceased and for “those who have caused so much harm to their brothers and sisters”. May they repent, he added.
The Hosh al-Bieeya (Church Square) in Mosul houses the ruins of four Christian churches, mentioned by the Pope in his prayer. The four churches of the old Christian community were destroyed by the so-called Islamic State. In Mosul alone, there are more than 30 churches that have been completely destroyed. None of them have yet been rebuilt.
The occupation of Mosul
Between June 2014 and July 2017, Mosul was occupied by the Islamic State. It is estimated that half a million people, including more than 120,000 Christians, fled Mosul, which had a population of 1,846,500 in 2004. The city was systematically devastated, resulting in the destruction, among other things, of many churches, the mausoleum of ‛Awn ad-dīn, Nabī Yūnis (the mausoleum of the prophet Jonah) and part of the walls of the site of Nineveh, as well as that of rare manuscripts and more than 100,000 books kept in the Library, archaeological finds and numerous statues in the collections of the Nineveh Museum.
In June 2017, the Islamic State, surrounded by government forces and controlling only the old city, destroyed the mosque of Mūr ad-dīn, the symbolic place of the caliphate, which was however taken over a few days later by the Iraqis. . the army as well as part of the medieval quarter of the city.
In July 2017, after nine months of fighting, Mosul was liberated.
Full text of Pope Francis’ prayer
Below is the full text of the Pope’s prayer for the victims of war:
Most High God, Lord of all ages, you created the world with love and you never stop pouring out your blessings on your creatures. From beyond the sea of suffering and death, beyond all temptations of violence, injustice and unjust gain, you accompany your sons and daughters with the tender love of ‘a father.
Yet we, men and women, despising your gifts and absorbed in too worldly concerns, have often forgotten your advice of peace and harmony. We only cared about ourselves and our narrow interests. Indifferent to you and to others, we have barred the door to peace. What the prophet Jonah heard about Nineveh was repeated: the wickedness of men ascended to heaven (cf. Jonah 1: 2). We did not raise pure hands to heaven (cf. 1 Tim 2: 8), but from the earth again arose the cry of innocent blood (cf. Generator 4:10). In the book of Jonah, the people of Nineveh listened to the words of your prophet and found salvation in repentance. Lord, we now entrust to you the many victims of man’s hatred for man. We also implore your forgiveness and implore the grace of repentance: Kyrie Eleison! Kyrie Eleison! Kyrie Eleison!
(Brief moment of silence)
Lord our God, in this city we see two signs of the eternal human desire for closeness to you: the Al-Nouri Mosque, with its Al-Hadba minaret, and the Church of Our Lady of the Hour, of which the he clock for over a century has reminded passers-by that life is short and time is precious. Teach us to understand that you have entrusted us with your project of love, peace and reconciliation, and entrusted us with carrying it out in our time, in the short period of our earthly life. Let us know that only in this way, by putting it into practice immediately, can this city and this country be rebuilt, and hearts torn by pain can be healed. Help us not to spend our time promoting our selfish concerns, either as individuals or as groups, but in serving your plan of love. And whenever we go astray, grant us to listen to the voice of the true men and women of God and repent in due time, lest we be overwhelmed with destruction and death once more.
We entrust to you all those whose duration of earthly life has been shortened by the violent hand of their brothers and sisters; we also pray for those who have caused so much harm to their brothers and sisters. May they repent, touched by the power of your mercy.
Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and may everlasting light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.