Biden sees Pope’s Iraq trip as a symbol of hope

Within an hour of Pope Francis arriving in Iraq, U.S. President Joe Biden was calling the visit a “symbol of hope for the entire world.”

“Pope Francis’s visit was a historic and welcome first for the country,” Biden said.

“It sent an important message, as Pope Francis said himself, that ‘fraternity is more durable than fratricide, that hope is more powerful than death, that peace more powerful than war.’

“To see Pope Francis visit ancient religious sites, including the biblical birthplace of Abraham, spend time with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf, and offer prayers in Mosul — a city that only a few years ago endured the depravity and intolerance of a group like ISIS — is a symbol of hope for the entire world.”

Security was tight during the pope’s March 5-8 trip. It had to cater for major security concerns inside Iraq, as well as the additional security needed during ongoing global pandemic: in Iraq, COVID-19 cases were on the rise.

Biden also spoke of Iraq’s rich religious heritage, noting it is “steeped in religious and ethnic diversity.”

“It’s also home to one of the oldest and most diverse Christian communities in the world.”

“I congratulate the Government and people of Iraq for the care and planning that went into organizing this monumental visit, and continue to admire Pope Francis for his commitment to promoting religious tolerance, the common bonds of our humanity, and interfaith understanding.”

As a long-serving senator and former vice-president, Biden once estimated that he had visited the country a least 24 times.

His views on Iraq have changed over time.

In 2002, he voted to approve the U.S. war in Iraq, a decision he later said was a mistake. His son served in Iraq from 2008 to 2009 as a member of the Delaware Army National Guard.

In 2017, the U.S. State Department declared a genoicide by the so-called Islamic State against the country’s Yazidis and other minority groups.

United States’ top diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, was also full of praise for Francis.

He took to social media, saying:

“We believe his visit will inspire hope and help promote religious harmony and understanding among members of the different religions in Iraq and around the world.”



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