Friday, March 5, 2021

Holy Mass Online - Readings and Video : Saturday, March 6, 2021 - #Eucharist in Your Virtual Church

Saturday of the Second Week of Lent
Lectionary: 235
Reading I
Mi 7:14-15, 18-20
Shepherd your people with your staff,
    the flock of your inheritance,
That dwells apart in a woodland,
    in the midst of Carmel.
Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead,
    as in the days of old;
As in the days when you came from the land of Egypt,
    show us wonderful signs.
Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt
    and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance;
Who does not persist in anger forever,
    but delights rather in clemency,
And will again have compassion on us,
    treading underfoot our guilt?
You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins;
You will show faithfulness to Jacob,
    and grace to Abraham,
As you have sworn to our fathers
    from days of old.
Responsorial Psalm
103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12
R.    (8a)  The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
    and all my being, bless his holy name.
(MASS starts at the 13:50 Mark after the Stations of the Cross)
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits.
R.    The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
    he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
    he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R.    The Lord is kind and merciful.
He will not always chide,
    nor does he keep his wrath forever.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
    nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R.    The Lord is kind and merciful.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
    so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he put our transgressions from us.
R.    The Lord is kind and merciful.
Verse before the Gospel
Lk 15:18
I will get up and go to my father and shall say to him,
Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
Lk 15:1-3, 11-32
Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them Jesus addressed this parable.
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly, bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”
Prayer to Make a Spiritual Communion-
People who cannot communicate now make spiritual communion

At your feet, O my Jesus I bow down and offer you the repentance of my contrite heart, which abysses itself into its nothingness and Your holy presence. I adore you in the Sacrament of Your love, the ineffable Eucharist. I wish to receive you in the poor home that my heart offers you. In anticipation of the happiness of sacramental communion, I want to possess you in spirit. Come to me, oh my Jesus, that I may come to you. May Your love inflame my whole being, for life and death. I believe in you, I hope in you, I love you. So be it. Amen

Saint March 6 : Our Lady of Nazareth or Nazaré who was Known for Miraculous Protection

by: Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Biographical selection: 

The chronicles of the old Portugal report this episode that took place in the year 1182, on the day of the exaltation of the Holy Cross. Dom Fuas Roupinho, a knight and vassal of King Afonso Henriques, was out hunting on a foggy day. He was pursuing a deer when it came to an unexpected precipice and fell to its death into the sea below.

The horse, which was in close pursuit, reared on the very edge of the cliff, and it seemed certain that Dom Fuas would follow the deer to his death. Knowing that a little distance to his left was a cave with the statue of the Virgin of Nazareth, Dom Fuas immediately invoked her protection. He was saved, and in thanksgiving he built a small “chapel of memory” (Ermida da Memória) over the cave in her honor.

According to a document found with it, the little statue of the Virgin had been venerated in Nazareth in the times of early Christianity. When the iconoclast heresy started in Constantinople and the heretics were destroying all the statues, a monk called Ciriaco took it to a monastery in Spain in the proximity of Merida.

In 714, when the Saracens invaded the Iberian Peninsula, King Rodrigo fled with Friar Germano to the Atlantic coast, bearing the statue with them. They hid the statue in a small cave off the coast of the site that was later to become Nazaré, where it remained until it was found by a shepherd in 1179.

After Our Lady miraculously saved the life of Dom Fuas, the devotion to Our Lady of Nazareth spread broadly through the country and was the source of countless graces for the people. In 1377 King Fernando ordered a Church to be built near the little chapel, and the statue is venerated there now.

Comments of Prof. Plinio: 

The fact is full of grandiose memories from History. Dom Fuas Roupinho was one of the great heroes in the battles that marked the birth of Portugal and its independence from Spain.

The scene is superb: a noble hunting on a foggy day near the ocean. The deer he is chasing falls to a sudden death from a precipice. His horse rears at the edge of the cliff, and it seems certain he will die. He prays to Our Lady in a nearby cave, and she intervenes. The horse recovers and the noble is saved.

The statue of Our Lady is one that was venerated in Nazareth at the beginning of Christianity. How many crooked lines Divine Providence used to make this statue be there to save a Portuguese noble, right at the very time when Portugal was being founded. The episode is very poetic. It also shows the diverse ways Our Lady uses to foster a devotion.

The statue was venerated in Nazareth. Then, in flight during a persecution, it went to Spain. There it made a profound impression on the King, who took it with him when he was also obliged to flee. He and his companion, a friar, placed the image in a cave. Later it was found by a shepherd, and the devotion continued, although it was barely surviving. It would, however, grow enormously after Our Lady saved Dom Fuas Roupinho.

When devotion began to diminish in the Middle East, Our Lady made her statue go to Spain. When the devotion began to cool in Spain, she inspired a King to bring her to a place that would be part of a new country, Portugal. From there, the devotion would spread throughout that land and to other countries for the good of many people. Two hundreds years ago, the same devotion came from Portugal to Brazil, to the city of Belém do Pará. At the sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazareth, there is a center of pilgrimage year round. On the day of her feast, more than one million people go to venerate her.

The story reveals the way Our Lady often works her wonders. It reminds me of that principle of the theology of History – residuum revertetur [the remnant will return]. When everything seems to be near an end, when only a remnant remains faithful, then everything is reborn from it. A series of failures followed by rebirths - this is often found in the ways of Our Lady.

Our Lady of Nazaré, Brazil
Her ways are the royal ways of a Queen. She permits everything to almost disappear, and then she proves that she can re-establish everything. She restores what was there before and even more from only a remnant.

This is the rhythm History follows: we had the apogee of the Catholic spirit in the Middle Ages. Now we have its complete failure and the apogee of the revolutionary spirit. A remnant remains faithful fighting to destroy the Revolution and make the Reign of Mary, which will be built and reach an apex still higher than the Middle Ages.

The decadence of the Reign of Mary will bring, in its turn, another epoch that will represent the victory of the Antichrist. Then also, a remnant will remain faithful to fight the evil. The fidelity of that remnant will be rewarded with the second coming of Our Lord and His final triumph, along with the triumph of Our Lady.

This grandiose historical law also applies to our individual spiritual lives. When we experience an apparent failure, we should confide and pray to Our Lady because often it will be the re-starting of a new step in our devotion to her.
Source: Tradition in Action

On Pope Francis' Flight to Iraq with 74 Journalists from 15 Countries, He Receives a Journalism Award + Telegrams to Heads of State - VIDEO


[5-8 MARCH 2021]


Papal flight
Friday, March 5, 2021

During the four and a half hour flight, Pope Francis greeted the journalists travelling with him on the Alitalia A330 airplane. "I am happy to resume my travels," he said.  He thanked those present for their work and their presence. The director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, was by the Pope's side after 15 months non-travel due to coronavirus restrictions. He thanked Pope Francis "for his willingness to make a pilgrimage to Iraq". Also mentioned was Pope St John Paul II who wished to visit Iraq and the fact that he was never able to do so.  Bruni explained that there were "74 journalists from 15 countries" on the papal flight. During the exchange, the Pope was presented with a "Maria Grazia Cutuli" Italian National Journalism Award 2021, on the twentieth anniversary of her death in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. On the certificate, Pope Francis is described as a "Special Envoy" who "wearing out his shoes, travels the streets of the world in the name of Faith, Fraternity and Peace." Pope Francis also sent telegrams to heads of State as he passed through their airspace - see full text below.

Text from In-Flight - Bruni

Good morning, Your Holiness, good morning to you all. After many months we are back on a papal flight, 15 months. In the meantime, habits have changed and this image itself tells us [the journalists and the Pope have masks]: we must all respect health measures.

We thank you, Your Holiness, for your willingness to become a pilgrim in Iraq, the land of Abraham, with its people, its Christians. You said a few days ago : "You cannot disappoint a people twice", and we thank you for the willingness to be accompanied by a large group of journalists: it was not obvious, we are 74 from 15 countries, and 14 journalists come for the first time on a papal flight. We await the gestures and words of these days and in the meantime we thank you.


Good morning and thanks for the company. Thanks for coming. I am happy to resume traveling, and this is an emblematic journey. It is also a duty to a land that has been tormented for many years. Thanks for accompanying me. I will try to follow the directions and not shake everyone's hand, but I don't want to stay far away: I will pass by to greet you more closely. Thank you very much.

takes a "tour" among the journalists ]

I wish you a good trip. I would just like ... I was told that one of you was having a birthday today, but maybe it is a mistake ... And the second thing I would like to tell you is that there are absences that you feel, and today the "dean's" has passed by Valentina [Alazraki] to [Philip] Pulella. Valentina's absence gave me a little sadness, because she accompanied us, the Popes, for 40 years or 50… But we hope to have her on the next trip. And Pulella is our dean on this journey. Thank you!

Source: Press Release with excerpt from Vatican News

As is Customary - Pope Francis Sent Telegrams to Presidents of the Countries he Flew over - FULL TEXT Telegrams Below:

The departure from Rome

The 33rd International Apostolic Journey of Pope Francis who goes to Iraq began this morning.

On leaving Casa Santa Marta, shortly before 07.00, the Holy Father spoke for a few moments with about 12 people welcomed by the Community of Sant'Egidio and the Auxilium Cooperative , who had recently taken refuge in Italy from Iraq. The group was accompanied by the Almoner, Card. Konrad Krajewski. Then Pope Francis moved by car to Rome-Fiumicino International Airport from where, at 7.35 am, aboard an Alitalia A330, he left for Baghdad.

The plane landed at Baghdad International Airport at 13.55 local time (11.55 Rome time).


Telegram to the President of the Italian Republic

When leaving the Italian territory, the Holy Father Francis sent the following telegraphic message to the President of the Italian Republic, Hon. Sergio Mattarella:

His Excellence On. Sergio Mattarella

President Of The Italian Republic

Palazzo Del Quirinale 00187 Rome

When I Leave Rome To Go To Iraq A Pilgrim Of Peace And Fraternity Among The Peoples, I Wanted To Address To You, Mr President, My Deferent Greetings, Who Accompany The Italian People With Fervid Happens Of Serenity And Prosperity.

Franciscus Pp.

[00282-en.01] [Original Text: Italian]

Telegrams To The Heads Of State On The Flight From Rome To Baghdad

During The Flight To Baghdad, In Flying Over Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Palestine And Finally Jordan, The Holy Father Francis Sent The Following Telegraph Messages To The Respective Heads Of State:

Overflight Greece

Her Excellency Katerina Sakellaropoulou

President Of The Hellenic Republic


As My Apostolic Journey To Iraq Takes Me Over Greek Airspace, I Send Warm Greetings To Your Excellency And Pray That God Almighty Will Bestow Upon You And Your Fellow Citizens His Blessings Of Unity, Peace And Prosperity.

Franciscus Pp.

Overflight Cyprus

His Excellency Nicos Anastasiades

President Of Cyprus


Entering Cypriot Airspace On My Apostolic Journey To Iraq, I Extend Cordial Greetings To Your Excellency And The People Of Cyprus, With Fervent Prayers That God Will Bless You All With Harmony And Peace.

Franciscus Pp.

I Fly Over Israel

His Excellency Reuven Rivlin

President Of The State Of Israel

Entering Israeli Airspace On My Apostolic Journey To Iraq, I Send Warm Greetings To You And The People Of The Nation, Praying That Almighty God Will Bless All With His Gifts Of Harmony And Peace.

Franciscus Pp.

Overflight Palestine

His Excellency Mahmoud Abbas

President Of The State Of Palestine

As I Fly Over Palestinian Territory On My Apostolic Journey To Iraq, I Extend Cordial Greetings To Your Excellency And Your Fellow Citizens, And I Pray That The Most High God Will Bless All Palestinians With Peace And Well-being.

Franciscus Pp.


Overflight Jordan

His Majesty Abdullah Ii

King Of Jordan


I Offer Cordial Greetings To Your Majesty, The Members Of The Royal Family And The People Of Jordan As I Fly Over Jordanian Airspace On My Apostolic Journey To Iraq. Upon The Entire Nation, I Invoke The Abundant Blessings Of The Most High.


U.S. Bishops " on all the faithful and people of good will in the United States to pray for the success and safety of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Iraq.."

U.S. Bishops’ President and International Justice and Peace Chairman Express Solidarity with Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Iraq 
MARCH 4, 2021 
WASHINGTON — Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and chairman of USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace call for prayer and solidarity with the Holy Father and the people of Iraq:

“We call on all the faithful and people of good will in the United States to pray for the success and safety of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Iraq March 5-8 as he stands in solidarity with the local Church and promotes peaceful coexistence among all people of Iraq.

“This is the first papal visit to Iraq and presents a critical opportunity to remember the suffering people of Iraq. We share in the Holy Father’s message of solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters who are a part of the rich and ancient cultural fabric of the region and yet have undergone great trials in recent years, dwindling significantly in number amidst much conflict. We commend the good work of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association and Catholic Relief Services in Iraq and urge the faithful’s generous support of such organizations on this occasion.

“We join our prayers to those of Mary our Blessed Mother, whose name is highly revered among the people of this land, beseeching that the anticipated interreligious meetings will be marked by new pathways of mutual understanding and peace. As Pope Francis exhorts in Evangelii gaudium, may these encounters be marked by ‘an attitude of openness in truth and in love.’”

“May this moment in history mark a renewed hope for the Church in Iraq, the rebuilding of this society, and peaceful coexistence for all.”

Source: USCCB

Pope Francis says "..the Lord has given us an effective vaccine against this nasty virus: it is hope. The hope that arises from persevering prayer.." FULL TEXT in Iraq to Religious



[5-8 MARCH 2021]



Syrian-Catholic Cathedral of “Our Lady of Salvation” in Baghdad
Friday, March 5, 2021

Beatitudes, Excellencies,

Dear Priests and Religious,
Dear Sisters,
dear brothers and sisters!

I embrace you all with paternal affection. I am grateful to the Lord who in his providence has allowed us to meet today. I thank His Beatitude Patriarch Ignace Youssif Younan and His Beatitude Cardinal Louis Sako for their welcome words. 


We are gathered in this Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation, blessed by the blood of our brothers and sisters who here paid the extreme price of their fidelity to the Lord and his Church. May the memory of their sacrifice inspire us to renew our confidence in the strength of the Cross and its saving message of forgiveness, reconciliation and rebirth. In fact, the Christian is called to bear witness to the love of Christ everywhere and at all times. This is the Gospel to be proclaimed and incarnated also in this beloved country.

As bishops and priests, men and women religious, catechists and lay leaders, you all share the joys and sufferings, hopes and anxieties of Christ's faithful. The needs of God's people and the arduous pastoral challenges you face on a daily basis have worsened in this time of pandemic. However, what must never be blocked or reduced is our apostolic zeal, which you draw from very ancient roots, from the uninterrupted presence of the Church in these lands from the earliest times (cf.BENEDICT XVI, Apostolic Exhortation Postsin Ecclesia in Medio Orient , 5). 


 We know how easy it is to be infected with the virus of discouragement that sometimes seems to spread around us. Yet the Lord has given us an effective vaccine against this nasty virus: it is hope. The hope that arises from persevering prayer and daily fidelity to our apostolate. With this vaccine we can move forward with ever new energy, to share the joy of the Gospel, as missionary disciples and living signs of the presence of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of holiness, justice and peace.

How much the world around us needs to hear this message! Let us never forget that Christ is announced above all by the witness of lives transformed by the joy of the Gospel. As we see from the ancient history of the Church in these lands, a living faith in Jesus is “contagious”, it can change the world. The example of the saints shows us that following Jesus Christ "is not only a true and just thing, but also a beautiful thing, capable of filling life with a new splendor and a profound joy, even in the midst of trials" (Apost. . Evangelii gaudium , 167).

Difficulties are part of the daily experience of the Iraqi faithful. Over the past few decades, you and your fellow citizens have had to face the effects of war and persecution, the fragility of basic infrastructure and the continuing struggle for economic and personal security, which has often led to internal displacement and the migration of many, including among Christians, in other parts of the world. I thank you, brother Bishops and Priests, for having remained close to your people - close to your people! -, supporting it, striving to satisfy the needs of the people and helping each one to do his part in the service of the common good. The educational and charitable apostolate of your particular Churches represent a precious resource for the life both of the ecclesial community and of society as a whole.Mt 13 : 31-32), continue to enrich the journey of the country as a whole.

The love of Christ asks us to put aside any kind of self-centeredness and competition; pushes us to the universal communion and calls us to form a community of brothers and sisters who will welcome and take care of one another (cf.. Brothers all , 95-96). I think of the familiar image of a carpet. The different Churches present in Iraq, each with its centuries-old historical, liturgical and spiritual heritage, are like many single colored threads that, woven together, make up a single, beautiful carpet, which not only attests our fraternity, but also refers to its source. Because God himself is the artist who conceived this carpet, who weaves it with patience and mends it with care, always wanting us to be well intertwined, like his sons and daughters. May the exhortation of St. Ignatius of Antioch always be in our hearts: "There is nothing among you that can divide you, [...] but there is only one prayer, one spirit, one hope, in love and joy »( Ad Magnesios , 6-7: PL5, 667). How important is this testimony of fraternal union in a world often fragmented and torn by divisions! Every effort made to build bridges between ecclesial, parochial and diocesan communities and institutions will serve as a prophetic gesture of the Church in Iraq and as a fruitful response to Jesus' prayer that all may be one ( cf.Jn 17:21; Ecclesia in Medio Oriente , 37).

Pastors and faithful, priests, religious and catechists share, albeit in different ways, the responsibility of carrying out the mission of the Church. Sometimes misunderstandings can arise and we can experience tensions: they are the knots that hinder the weaving of fraternity. They are knots that we carry within us; after all, we are all sinners. However, these knots can be untied by Grace, by a greater love; they can be loosened by forgiveness and fraternal dialogue, patiently bearing one another's burdens (cf. Gal 6: 2) and strengthening each other in moments of trial and difficulty.

Now I would like to say a special word to my brother bishops. I like to think of our episcopal ministry in terms of closeness: our need to remain with God in prayer, alongside the faithful entrusted to our care and our priests. Be particularly close to your priests. May they see you not as administrators or managers, but as fathers, concerned that their children are well, ready to offer them support and encouragement with an open heart. Accompany them with your prayer, with your time, with your patience, appreciating their work and guiding their growth. In this way you will be for your priests a visible sign of Jesus, the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep and gives his life for them (cf. Jn 10 : 14-15).

Dear priests, men and women religious, catechists, seminarians who are preparing for the future ministry: you have all heard the voice of the Lord in your hearts and as young Samuel answered: "Here I am" ( 1 Sam3.4). May this response, which I invite you to renew every day, lead each of you to share the Good News with enthusiasm and courage, always living and walking in the light of the Word of God, which we have the gift and the task of proclaiming. We know that our service also has an administrative component, but that doesn't mean we have to spend all our time in meetings or behind a desk. It is important to go out in the midst of our flock and offer our presence and our accompaniment to the faithful in cities and villages. I think of those who risk being left behind: the young, the elderly, the sick and the poor. When we serve our neighbor with dedication, as you do, in a spirit of compassion, humility, kindness, with love, we are truly serving Jesus, as he himself told us (cf.Mt 25,40). And by serving Jesus in others, we discover true joy. Do not turn away from the holy people of God in which you were born. Do not forget your mothers and grandmothers, who "nursed" you in faith, as Saint Paul would say (cf. 2 Tim 1,5). Be shepherds, servants of the people and not state officials, clerics of state. Always among the people of God, never detach yourself as if you were a privileged class. Do not deny this noble "lineage" which is the holy people of God.

I would now like to return to our brothers and sisters who died in the terrorist attack on this Cathedral ten years ago and whose cause for beatification is ongoing. Their death strongly reminds us that incitement to war, hatred, violence and bloodshed are incompatible with religious teachings (cf. Enc. Brothers All , 285). And I want to remember all the victims of violence and persecution, belonging to any religious community. Tomorrow, in Ur , I will meet the Leaders of the religious traditions present in this country, to proclaim once again our conviction that religion must serve the cause of peace and unity among all the children of God. Tonight I want to thank you for your commitment to be peacemakers, within your communities and with believers of other religious traditions, sowing seeds of reconciliation and fraternal coexistence that can lead to a rebirth of hope for all.

I am thinking in particular of young people. Everywhere they are bearers of promise and hope, and especially in this country. Here, in fact, there is not only an inestimable archaeological heritage, but an incalculable wealth for the future: it is the young! They are your treasure and it is necessary to take care of them, nourishing their dreams, accompanying their journey, increasing their hope. Although young, in fact, their patience has already been severely tested by the conflicts of recent years. But let us remember, they - together with the elderly - are the spearhead of the country, the tastiest fruits of the tree: it is up to us, to us, to cultivate them for good and irrigate them with hope.

Brothers and sisters, through Baptism and Confirmation, through ordination or religious profession, you have been consecrated to the Lord and sent to be missionary disciples in this land so closely linked to the history of salvation. You are part of that history, faithfully witnessing God's promises, which never fail, and seeking to build a new future. May your witness, matured in adversity and strengthened by the blood of martyrs, be a light that shines in Iraq and beyond, to announce the greatness of the Lord and to make the spirit of this people rejoice in God our Savior ( cf.Lk 1 : 46-47 ).

Again I give thanks that we were able to meet. Our Lady of Salvation and the Apostle St. Thomas intercede for you and always protect you. I cordially bless each of you and your communities. And I ask you to please pray for me. Thank you!

Pope Francis in Iraq to President and Diplomats "..God, who created human beings equal in dignity and rights, calls us to spread the values of love, good will and concord." FULL TEXT + Video



[5-8 March 2021]



Hall of the Presidential Palace in Baghdad
Friday, 5 March 2021

Mr President,

Members of Government and the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished Authorities,
Representatives of Civil Society,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am grateful for the opportunity to make this long-awaited and desired Visit to the Republic of Iraq, and to come to this land, a cradle of civilization closely linked through the Patriarch Abraham and a number of the Prophets to the history of salvation and to the great religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I express my gratitude to His Excellency President Salih for his invitation and for his gracious words of welcome, offered also in the name of the other authorities of the nation and its beloved people. I likewise greet the members of the diplomatic corps and the representatives of civil society.

I greet with affection the bishops and priests, men and women religious and all the faithful of the Catholic Church. I have come as a pilgrim to encourage them in their witness of faith, hope and love in the midst of Iraqi society. I also greet the members of other Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities, the followers of Islam and the representatives of other religious traditions. May God grant that we journey together as brothers and sisters in “the firm conviction that authentic teachings of religions invite us to remain rooted in the values of peace… mutual understanding, human fraternity and harmonious coexistence” (Document on Human Fraternity, Abu Dhabi, 4 February 2019).

My visit is taking place at a time when the world as a whole is trying to emerge from the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected not only the health of countless individuals but has also contributed to a worsening of social and economic conditions already marked by fragility and instability. This crisis calls for concerted efforts by all to take necessary steps, including an equitable distribution of vaccines for everyone. But this is not enough: this crisis is above all a summons to “rethink our styles of life… and the meaning of our existence” (Fratelli Tutti, 33). It has to do with coming out of this time of trial better than we were before, and with shaping a future based more on what unites us than on what divides us.

Over the past several decades, Iraq has suffered the disastrous effects of wars, the scourge of terrorism and sectarian conflicts often grounded in a fundamentalism incapable of accepting the peaceful coexistence of different ethnic and religious groups, different ideas and cultures. All this has brought in its wake death, destruction and ruin, not only materially: the damage is so much deeper if we think of the heartbreak endured by so many individuals and communities, and wounds that will take years to heal. Here, among so many who have suffered, my thoughts turn to the Yazidis, innocent victims of senseless and brutal atrocities, persecuted and killed for their religion, and whose very identity and survival was put at risk. Only if we learn to look beyond our differences and see each other as members of the same human family, will we be able to begin an effective process of rebuilding and leave to future generations a better, more just and more humane world. In this regard, the religious, cultural and ethnic diversity that has been a hallmark of Iraqi society for millennia is a precious resource on which to draw, not an obstacle to be eliminated. Iraq today is called to show everyone, especially in the Middle East, that diversity, instead of giving rise to conflict, should lead to harmonious cooperation in the life of society.

Fraternal coexistence calls for patient and honest dialogue, protected by justice and by respect for law. This task is not easy; it demands hard work and a commitment on the part of all to set aside rivalries and contrapositions and instead to speak with one another from our deepest identity as fellow children of the one God and Creator (cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Declaration Nostra Aetate, 5). On the basis of this principle, the Holy See, in Iraq as elsewhere, tirelessly appeals to competent authorities to grant all religious communities recognition, respect, rights and protection. I appreciate the efforts already being made in this regard, and I join men and women of good will in calling for these efforts to continue for the benefit of the nation.

A society that bears the imprint of fraternal unity is one whose members live in solidarity with one another. “Solidarity helps us to regard others… as our neighbours, companions on our journey” (Message for the 2021 World Day of Peace). It is a virtue that leads us to carry out concrete acts of care and service with particular concern for the vulnerable and those most in need. Here, I think of all those who have lost family members and loved ones, home and livelihood due to violence, persecution or terrorism. I think too of those who continue to struggle for security and the means of personal and economic survival at a time of growing unemployment and poverty. The “consciousness that we are responsible for the fragility of others” (Fratelli Tutti, 115) ought to inspire every effort to create concrete opportunities for progress, not only economically, but also in terms of education and care for our common home. Following a crisis, it is not enough simply to rebuild; we need to rebuild well, so that all can enjoy a dignified life. We never emerge from a crisis the same as we were; we emerge from it either better or worse.

As governmental leaders and diplomats, you are called to foster this spirit of fraternal solidarity. It is necessary, but not sufficient, to combat the scourge of corruption, misuse of power and disregard for law. Also necessary is the promotion of justice and the fostering of honesty, transparency and the strengthening of the institutions responsible in this regard. In this way, stability within society grows and a healthy politics arises, able to offer to all, especially the young of whom there are so many in this country, sure hope for a better future.

Mr President, distinguished authorities, dear friends! I come as a penitent, asking forgiveness of heaven and my brothers and sisters for so much destruction and cruelty. I come as a pilgrim of peace in the name of Christ, the Prince of Peace. How much we have prayed in these years for peace in Iraq! Saint John Paul II spared no initiatives and above all offered his prayers and sufferings for this intention. And God listens, he always listens! It is up to us to listen to him and to walk in his ways. May the clash of arms be silenced! May their spread be curbed, here and everywhere! May partisan interests cease, those outside interests uninterested in the local population. May the voice of builders and peacemakers find a hearing! The voice of the humble, the poor, the ordinary men and women who want to live, work and pray in peace. May there be an end to acts of violence and extremism, factions and intolerance! May room be made for all those citizens who seek to cooperate in building up this country through dialogue and through frank, sincere and constructive discussion. Citizens committed to reconciliation and prepared, for the common good, to set aside their own interests. Iraq has sought in these years to lay the foundations for a democratic society. For this, it is essential to ensure the participation of all political, social and religious groups and to guarantee the fundamental rights of all citizens. May no one be considered a second-class citizen. I encourage the strides made so far on this journey and I trust that they will strengthen tranquility and concord.

The international community also has a role to play in the promotion of peace in this land and in the Middle East as a whole. As we have seen during the lengthy conflict in neighbouring Syria – which began ten years ago these very days! – the challenges facing our world today engage the entire human family. They call for cooperation on a global scale in order to address, among other things, the economic inequalities and regional tensions that threaten the stability of these lands. I thank the countries and international organizations working in Iraq to rebuild and to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees, the internally displaced and those attempting to return home, by making food, water, shelter, health care and hygiene services available throughout the country, together with programmes of reconciliation and peacebuilding. Here I cannot fail to mention the many agencies, including a number of Catholic agencies, that for many years have been committed to helping the people of this country. Meeting the basic needs of so many of our brothers and sisters is an act of charity and justice, and contributes to a lasting peace. It is my prayerful hope that the international community will not withdraw from the Iraqi people the outstretched hand of friendship and constructive engagement, but will continue to act in a spirit of shared responsibility with the local authorities, without imposing political or ideological interests.

Religion, by its very nature, must be at the service of peace and fraternity. The name of God cannot be used “to justify acts of murder, exile, terrorism and oppression” (Document on Human Fraternity, Abu Dhabi, 4 February 2019). On the contrary, God, who created human beings equal in dignity and rights, calls us to spread the values of love, good will and concord. In Iraq too, the Catholic Church desires to be a friend to all and, through interreligious dialogue, to cooperate constructively with other religions in serving the cause of peace. The age-old presence of Christians in this land, and their contributions to the life of the nation, constitute a rich heritage that they wish to continue to place at the service of all. Their participation in public life, as citizens with full rights, freedoms and responsibilities, will testify that a healthy pluralism of religious beliefs, ethnicities and cultures can contribute to the nation’s prosperity and harmony.

Dear friends, I would like to express once again my heartfelt gratitude for all you have done and continue to do in building a society of fraternal union, solidarity and concord. Your service to the common good is a noble one. I ask the Almighty to sustain you in your responsibilities and to guide you in the ways of wisdom, justice and truth. Upon each of you, your families and loved ones, and upon all the Iraqi people, I invoke an abundance of divine blessings. Thank you!

Source: - Image Screenshot - Official Translation

#BreakingNews Pope Francis Arrives in Baghdad, Iraq and is Welcomed by the People - VIDEO

Pope Francis has arrived at Baghdad international airport in Iraq. This begins his 33rd Apostolic Journey and the very first papal visit to Iraq. A group welcomed Pope Francis on the tarmac of religious and political authorities and some Iraqi citizens with two children with flowers for the Holy Father. The welcoming group included the Apostolic Nuncio to Iraq, Archbishop Mitja Leskovar, as well as representatives of the Chaldean Archeparchy of Baghdad, the Latin Archdiocese of Baghdad, the Syriac Archeparchy of Baghdad, and the Armenian Archeparchy of Baghdad, as well as the country’s Prime Minister, Mustafa Abdellatif Mshatat, the President of the Republic and his wife. As is required according to protocol, Pope Francis' first official meeting takes place at the Presidential Palace. He met privately with President Barham Ahmed Salih Qassim.   Source: