ERBIL — On the second day of his fist-ever trip to Iraq, Pope Francis visited the ancient Iraqi city of Ur in south of the country, where he urged the Abrahamic religions to pursue the path of peace.
On Sunday, Pope Francis also met with representatives of different religions at the site of Ur, the city beloved to be the birthplace of Prophet Abraham.
“This blessed place brings us back to our origins, to the sources of God’s work, to the birth of our religions,” the Pope said in his speech.
He told Muslim, Christian, and Jewish representatives that gathering in Ur seems like they have all returned home.
“It was here that Abraham heard God’s call; it was from here that he set out on a journey that would change history. We are the fruits of that call and that journey.”
As representatives of those descendants gathered at his birthplace, the Pope urged everyone to look up to heaven as we journey upon earth.
The Pontiff also urged the faithful of all religions to preserve fraternity through love while lifting our eyes toward heaven and worshiping God.
“This is true religiosity: to worship God and to love our neighbour,” he said. “In today’s world, which often forgets or presents distorted images of the Most High, believers are called to bear witness to his goodness, to show his paternity through our fraternity.”
He said believers cannot be silent when terrorism abuses religion, since violence and extremism are not born of a religious heart.
Lamenting the “dark clouds of terrorism, war, and violence” that have overshadowed Iraq, Pope Francis recalled that “all ethnic and religious communities have suffered.” He especially lifted his voice in defense of the Yezidi community, many of whom have been murdered, sold as slaves and forced to convert.
“Let us pray that freedom of conscience and freedom of religion will everywhere be recognized and respected; these are fundamental rights, because they make us free to contemplate the heaven for which we were created.”