Pope on Iraq visit, decries violence

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Baghdad

Muslim and Christian residents of Mosul told Pope Francis of their lives under the brutal rule of Islamic State on Sunday as the pontiff blessed their vow to rise up from ashes, telling them that “fraternity is more durable than fratricide.”

Francis, on a historic trip to Iraq, flew into Mosul by helicopter to encourage the binding of sectarian wounds and to pray for the dead of any religion.

The 84-year-old pope walked past ruins of houses and churches to a square that was once the thriving centre of the old town. The northern city was occupied by IS from 2014 to 2017.

“Together we say no to fundamentalism. No to sectarianism and no to corruption,” the Chaldean archbishop of Mosul, Najeeb Michaeel, told the pope.

Francis sat on a white chair surrounded by skeletons of buildings and dangling staircases.—Reuters