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Statement on the First Papal Visit to Iraq

March 08, 2021

Iraq is a country steeped in religious and ethnic diversity. It's also home to one of the oldest and most diverse Christian communities in the world.

Pope Francis' visit was a historic and welcome first for the country. It sent an important message, as Pope Francis said himself, that "fraternity is more durable than fratricide, that hope is more powerful than death, that peace more powerful than war."

To see Pope Francis visit ancient religious sites, including the biblical birthplace of Abraham, spend time with Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani in Najaf, and offer prayers in Mosul—a city that only a few years ago endured the depravity and intolerance of a group like ISIS—is a symbol of hope for the entire world.

I congratulate the Government and people of Iraq for the care and planning that went into organizing this monumental visit and continue to admire Pope Francis for his commitment to promoting religious tolerance, the common bonds of our humanity, and interfaith understanding.

NOTE: The statement referred to Grand Ayatollah Al-Sayyid Ali Al-Husseini Al-Sistani, Iraqi Shiite leader. It also referred to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist organization.

Joseph R. Biden, Statement on the First Papal Visit to Iraq Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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