Catholic Pontiff Pope Francis urges Iraq’s Muslims, Christians to stick together for peace and unity during an interfaith meeting in the traditional birthplace of the Prophet Abraham, father of their faiths.
“This is true religiosity: to worship God and to love our neighbour,” the pontiff told the gathering on Saturday.
Francis travelled to the ruins of Ur in southern Iraq to reinforce his message of inter-religious tolerance and fraternity during the first-ever papal visit to Iraq, a country riven by religious and ethnic divisions.
With a magnificent ziggurat nearby, Francis told the faith leaders that it was fitting that they come together in Ur, “back to our origins, to the sources of God’s work, to the birth of our religions” to pray together for peace as children of Abraham, the prophet common to Muslims, Christians, and Jews.
“From this place, where faith was born, from the land of our father Abraham, let us affirm that God is merciful and that the greatest blasphemy is to profane his name by hating our brothers and sisters,” he said. “Hostility, extremism, and violence are not born of a religious heart: they are betrayals of religion.”
The pope said there could never be peace as long as Iraqis viewed people of different faiths as the “other”.
“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,” he said. Here