New Delhi: Though political opportunists and so-called self-seeking secular liberals have often tried to pit Muslims and Christians in India together as a bloc against the Hindu majority, the ‘civilizational clash’ between Muslims and Christians is a known and well-recognized thing. Amid these issues, came Pope Francis’s visit to war-ravaged Iraq.
“Forgiveness is necessary to remain in love, to remain, Christian,” the papal told Christians in a terrorism-destroyed city.
Pope Francis, head of the Vatican, has made the historic visit to Iraq including Ur, the birthplace of Abraham.
Ur is possibly the city of Ur Kasdim mentioned in the Book of Genesis as the birthplace of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim patriarch Abraham (Ibrahim in Arabic).
“Hostility, extremism and violence are not born of a religious heart: they are betrayals of religion,” the pope said.
Pope Francis arrived in Ur after a 45-minute meeting in Najaf with 90-year-old Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, one of Shiite Islam’s respected and influential leaders.
Pope Francis, the first Pope to visit Iraq, urged believers to prove their faith in the one God and said everyone should treat one another as brothers and sisters.
The papal visit has been rendered as a low key affair due to the pandemic but it has its own significance globally.
Breaking bread with Muslims on a Friday, the pope virtually sought to advise the Western world and the Islamic nations to rethink on the confrontational cultural theory of “clash of civilizations”.
The American political scientist Samuel P. Huntington giving a credence to this theory of ‘clash of civilisatons’ had argued eloquently that future wars would be fought not between countries, but between cultures and different religious believers.
On Sunday, March 7, 2021, the 84-year-old Pope Francis arrived in the northern town of Qaraqosh.
In 2014, the Islamic State terror group swept through Iraq’s Nineveh plains, home to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. “Forgiveness is necessary to remain in love, to remain Christian,” the papal said. “The road to a full recovery may still be long, but I ask you, please, not to grow discouraged,” he maintained.
It may be mentioned that Pope Francis had earlier visited Muslim-majority nations like Bangladesh, Turkey, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.