Mosul [Iraq], March 8 (ANI): Standing amid the rubble left by the now defeated ISIS terrorists in Iraq, Pope Francis on Sunday said that hope is "more powerful than hatred and peace more powerful than war."
On the third day of his visit to the war-torn nation, Pope Francis called for a "harmonious coexistence" among people from different backgrounds and cultures.
Leading a prayer at a square amid the ruins of the Syro-Catholic Church in Mosul's Old City, the Pope said, "Here in Mosul, the tragic consequences of war and hostility are all too evident".
"How cruel it is that this country, the cradle of civilization, should have been afflicted by so barbarous a blow, with ancient places of worship destroyed and many thousands of people -- Muslims, Christians, Yazidis and others -- forcibly displaced or killed!"
According to CNN, thousands of people were killed during the battle to recapture Mosul from ISIS, which controlled the city between 2014 and 2017.
During his trip to Iraq, he denounced extremism in the name of religion as "betrayals of religion" and called for friendship and cooperation between religions.
According to CNN, the Pope visited Ur on his second day of the first-ever papal visit to Iraq condemned the violence that has plagued the country in recent years and called for friendship and cooperation between religions.
"All its ethnic and religious communities have suffered. In particular, I would like to mention the Yazidi community, which has mourned the deaths of many men and witnessed thousands of women, girls and children kidnapped, sold as slaves, subjected to physical violence and forced conversions," he said.
Earlier, the head of the Catholic Church met Shia Muslim cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the holy city of Najaf.
It is a significant trip as this is the first-ever papal visit to Iraq, which is considered the homeland of Abraham.
According to CNN, the pontiff on Friday held meetings with Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and President Barham Salih.
He also met with the clerics and other officials at a Baghdad church, which was the site of the bloody 2010 massacre that killed 51 congregants and two priests.
While welcoming the Pope, Iraqi President Barham Salih said: "Holy Father, we are healing our wounds, and here you are, healing our wounds with us". (ANI)