The Holy Father met with the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, and expressed deep concern over the crisis in the war-torn countries threatened by violence. He also expressed his hope that leaders would be bold enough to seek dialogue and reconciliation.
The 78-year-old leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics gave the Prime Minister a Peace Sign Medallion, featuring an olive tree – a symbol of peace, he said, “I wish for Iraqis and for all of us – for the whole world – leaders like this.”
“Inshallah, inshallah,” al-Abadi replied in Arabic which means “God willing.”
Prime Minister al-Abadi also held private talks with top officials of the Vatican Secretariat of State.
A statement released by the Vatican read, “With Islamic State militants still operating in large areas of Iraq and with the people still recovering from war, the discussions included “the life of the Church in the country” and “the situation of Christians and ethnic and religious minorities with particular reference to the importance of their presence and the need to protect their rights.”
“Emphasis was placed on the role of interreligious dialogue and the responsibility of religious communities in promoting tolerance and peace,” the statement added. “In this context, mention was made of the importance of the reconciliation process between the various social sectors within the country, and the national humanitarian and regional situations.”