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Statement by President Biden on First-Ever Papal Visit to Iraq

Pope Francis, center arrives to concelebrate a mass in the Chaldean Cathedral of Saint Joseph, in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, March 6, 2021. Earlier today Francis met privately with the country's revered Shiite leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

March 8, 2021

March 8, 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.