Pope Francis returned to Rome after a whirlwind visit to Iraq. The pope’s visit stirred the hopes of Christians who for years have suffered at the hands of Islamic groups like the Islamic state.
Pope Francis traveled throughout Iraq from Baghdad in the south to Erbil, Mosul, and Qaraqosh in the north. To Christians who faced the worst persecution at the hands of ISIS, he brought a message of hope.
In one of his messages, he said, “Certainly, there will be moments when faith can waiver when it seems that God does not see or act. this was true for you in the darkest days of the war, and it is true too in these days of global health crisis and great insecurity. at times like these, remember that Jesus is by your side. Do not stop dreaming. Do not give up. Do not lose hope.”
The pope came despite the dangers. For Lubna Georgis, a Christian from Mosul, it was an encouragement. “We are not scared because Pope Francis was not afraid and he did not want to let down the Iraqi people.”
Many Iraqi Christians lost homes or fled when ISIS swept throughout the land and since the Iraq war, the number of Christians has dropped dramatically in Iraq from over one million to now about 250,000.
It’s the hope of many that the pope’s visit will help preserve the church in this troubled land.