The pope visits Mosul, Iraq’s wounded heart
In an extraordinary moment on the last full day of the first papal trip to Iraq, Francis went to Mosul, which was seized by the Islamic State seven years ago and declared the capital of its caliphate. The pope directly addressed the suffering, persecution and sectarian conflict that have torn the nation apart.
“The real identity of this city is that of harmonious coexistence between people of different backgrounds and cultures,” Francis said in a public square surrounded by the ruins of four Christian churches. Posters that read “Mosul Welcomes You” covered walls pockmarked with bullet holes.
The pope spoke of “our conviction that fraternity is more durable than fratricide, that hope is more powerful than death, that peace more powerful than war.” “This conviction speaks with greater eloquence than the passing voices of hatred and violence,” he continued, “and it can never be silenced by the blood spilled by those who pervert the name of God to pursue paths of destruction.”
The visit, which began on Friday, is Francis’s first trip since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The pope has sought to protect an ancient but battered Christian community and build relations with the Muslim world. On Saturday, he met with the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the revered Shiite cleric. We captured key moments of the trip in these images.
a stadium in the northern city of Erbil. The 84-year-old pope and his entourage have been vaccinated against Covid-19, but Iraq’s vaccination campaign began only last week.
the broadest reopening of Israel’s economy since the first coronavirus lockdown began a year ago.
Under Israel’s “Back to Life” program, restaurants still have restrictions on occupancy and social distancing, and indoor seating is available only to Green Pass holders — people over 16 who are fully vaccinated.