Pope Francis spent much of Saturday in the air, touching down in three cities during the second day of his apostolic visit in Iraqi.
He left Baghdad early for Najaf, where he had a historic meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, one of the leading figures in Shiite Islam.
The meeting marked a landmark moment in modern religious history and in terms of Pope Francis’s efforts to deepen interfaith dialogue.
Pope Francis then returned to the sky to head to Nassiriya, where he traveled by car to Ur – traditional birthplace of the Prophet Abraham, a central figure in the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths – where he made an impassioned plea for ‘unity’ after conflict in a gathering Iraq’s religious communities.
He then flew back to Baghdad, and after a brief rest celebrated the Holy Mass at the Chaldean Cathedral of St. Joseph.
Follow live coverage of his third day itinerary below (All times GMT)
0733: Pope Francis prays for “victims of war” outside a centuries-old church in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, heavily damaged by the Daesh group. The 84-year-old pontiff said the exodus of Christians from Iraq and the broader Middle East “does incalculable harm not just to the individuals and communities concerned, but also to the society they leave behind.”
0709: Pope Francis is now at the at Hosh Al-Bieaa (Church Square) in Mosul, where he will lead a prayer of suffrage for the victims of the war.
Where does the journey of peace begin? From the decision not to have enemies. Anyone who believes in God, has no enemies to fight. He or she has only one enemy to face, one that stands at the door of the heart and knocks to enter: it is hatred. #ApostolicJourney #Iraq— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) March 6, 2021
0655: Pope Francis arrives via helicopter in Mosul, once a stronghold for Daesh and where Christians now number little more than a few dozen families.
MOSUL WAITS FOR POPE FRANCIS
WATCH: Preparations at Hosh Al-Bieaa (Church Square) in Mosul, where Pope Francis will lead a prayer of suffrage for the victims of the war. Click on Twitter link below.
0523: Pope Francis arrives in Erbil, and is welcomed by Prime Minister Mansour Barzani of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan and other civil authorities of the region.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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