Pope Francis concludes the historic Iraq visittext_fields
Pope Francis on Monday wrapped up his historic whirlwind tour of Iraq that sought to bring hope to the country's marginalised Christian minority with a message of coexistence, forgiveness and peace.
The pontiff and his travelling delegation were to be seen off with a farewell ceremony at the Baghdad airport, from where he will leave for Rome following a four-day papal visit that has covered five provinces across Iraq.
In a Tweet on Monday, Pope Francis also greeted "heartfelt thanks to all the women, especially the women of Iraq, courageous women who continue to give life, in spite of wrongs and hurts"
The historic papal visit concluded with thousands gathered at Franso Hariri Football Stadium in Erbil as the Pope addressed largest mass since his apostolic visit to Iraq.
In his speech, the Pope shun light towards the essentiality of people to embrace brotherhood and compassion for a peaceful and a secular future.
Francis said that Iraq would remain in his heart forever, as he prepares to return to Rome on Monday. Together, we must work together for world peace, he stated.
The pontiff reminded the mass symbolically that even if the hands are muddied, hearts should be clean and pure. He called on people to understand the others' pain and to wipe their tears, which can only be achieved through a sense of responsibility.
Francis visited major areas of Mosul and Qaraqosh. The pope counselled that fraternity is what the world needs now rather than conflict. The catholic leader was devastated as he witnessed destroyed worship areas and statues of the virgin Maryin Mosul.
As the Pope arrived in Erbil International Airport in the morning, he was greeted by Kurdistan President Nechirvan Barzani, Former President of Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani and several other political figures.
"I'm honored to receive Pope Francis in Erbil. As apostolic visit begins in Kurdistan, we reiterate our lasting commitment to peace, religious freedom & fraternity. We also remember Peshmarga heroes and all those who made ultimate sacrifice to defend peace & liberty for all Iraqis," the President immediately tweeted.
The Kurds welcomed the pontiff with hymns and olive branches. The Pope also visited the main streets of Erbil -Gulan Street and 60 meters of Ankawa suburb.