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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis sends video message to Iraqi people hours before his trip

Dear brothers and sisters from Iraq. Peace be upon you.

With this greeting in Arabic, the pope began his video message, which he traditionally sends to countries he will visit a few hours before catching his flight. Pope Francis communicated his affection to the Iraqi people, whom he hopes to see starting Friday.

You still bear in mind the images of the destroyed houses and desecrated churches, and in your heart bear the wounds of lost affections and abandoned homes. I would like to bring you the affectionate caress of the whole Church, which is close to you and to the martyred Middle East and which encourages you to move forward.

Pope Francis said he will travel as a penitent pilgrim, to ask God to comfort hearts and heal wounds. He will also go as a pilgrim of fraternity, to help Muslims, Jews and Christians walk together. And he will go as a pilgrim of hope.

To you Christians, Muslims, to you peoples, like the Yazidi people, the Yazidis, who have suffered so so much. To all brothers and sisters. To everyone. Now I come to your blessed and wounded land as a pilgrim of hope.

On Friday, Pope Francis will begin one of the most dangerous and intense trips of his pontificate. Dangerous because of the pandemic and terrorism. Intense because he will visit a country that has suffered under the cruelest forms of violence in the last decades.

Javier Romero