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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis announces he wants to travel to Iraq next year

The pope met with ROACO, Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches. Its president, Card. Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, greeted Pope Francis on behalf of all the representatives from this organization.

“I express to His Holiness my deepest gratitude for this meeting which opens the work of the 92nd plenary assembly of ROACO.”

The pope unexpectedly announced his desire next year to travel to Iraq. It is a country marked for decades by war and where Christians have suffered persecution.

“I constantly think about Iraq, where I want to go next year. This is so I can look to a peaceful future based on the shared pursuit of the common good of all parts of society, including religious ones; and not to fall back into tensions that come from the endless conflicts of regional powers.”

He also recalled the suffering of those in Ukraine, Syria and Iraq. These are countries also immersed in war or where violence is constant. For this reason, he spoke strongly against those who benefit from wars such as these through the arms trade.

“Many times I think of the wrath of God that will be unleashed against the leaders of those countries that speak of peace but sell weapons to make these wars. This hypocrisy is a sin.”

Pope Francis also criticized the double standard of opening ports and gates for weapons, but not for people forced to flee their homes.

“They are people screaming, fleeing, piled up in boats, seeking hope, not knowing which ports will welcome them, in a Europe that opens its ports to ships that will load sophisticated and costly weapons capable of producing forms of destruction that do not spare even children. This is the hypocrisy I'm talking about.”

The pope also did not want to forget the situation in the Holy Land where he wished for peaceful coexistence and mutual respect among all its inhabitants.