One of the bright outcomes of His Holiness Pope Francis’ visit to Iraq is that Christians in Qaraqosh, who met with Pope Francis two months ago, celebrated on May 6 the first communion of 121 children at the city’s St. John the Baptist Church. Further 400 children will receive the sacrament shortly which stands as a stark sign of a living Christian community that restores its active and vibrant role.
This event marks a transition from the dark years of violence and terror that had earlier prevailed in Iraq into an era of love, peace, tolerance and common living. It also indicates that Christianity is still vibrant in Iraq and that the past glory of the Christian Iraqis will be restored in the country of their ancestors.
In addition of having exuded an atmosphere of jubilation, this event reflected the re-entrenchment of the Christian presence in Iraq, gave strength and hope for a bright future, and ensured the restoration of hope despite the setback that has recently been witnessed with the massive emigration of Christians who had earlier lost hope in having a dignified presence in their country.
In a message Pope Francis sent to Iraqi Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako on April 13 he said, “I was able to see and touch with my hand how Christ is alive in the Church in Iraq, working in his holy and believing people.” This very remark is greatly reassuring for as long as Lord Jesus Christ is alive in the Church in Iraq while blessing the believing people, a radical change will definitely be in place.
Actually, the state of relief prevailing among the Christian communities in Iraq is merely an extension of Pope's historic visit to Iraq which was a victory for a country long suppressed by violence and bloodshed. The seeds of love, mercy, and common living that the Pope had earlier sown in Iraq are germinating and the celebration regarding the first communion of 121 children indicates the restoration of confidence in security, stability and genuine peace.
It is hoped that all Iraqi wounds will be dressed and the momentum to breathe life into the Iraqi society will further be accelerated until a flowery future has been attained.
Before he left Iraq, the Pope repeatedly uttered the word “Salam” in Arabic which means “peace”. It is hoped that the May marathon of prayer will free the world from the corona pandemic--that has wreaked havoc on every walk of life in the universe--and eliminate the all sources of evil including wars and violence.
May the year 2021 witness a radical change in life and restore brotherly relations among all peoples of the world in line with His Holiness Pope Francis’ encyclical “Fratelli tutti” which states that fraternity and social friendship are the ways to build a better, more just and peaceful world, with the contribution of all people and institutions as well as with an emphatic confirmation of a ‘no’ to war.