His Holiness Pope Francis’ Apostolic Visit to the Kurdistan Region

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, March 7, 2021

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani received His Holiness Pope Francis, the Head of the Catholic Church, at the Erbil International Airport on Sunday morning.

As His Holiness descended the stairs to the tarmac at Erbil International Airport, Pope Francis pointed to the ground and told President Nechirvan Barzani: “I am happy that we meet again, here.”

Later at a meeting, attended by Kurdistan Region Prime Minister, Mr. Masrour Barzani, Vice President Mr. Mustafa Said Qadir, Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Qubad Talabani and Kurdistan Parliament Secretary Ms. Mona Qahwachi, President Nechirvan Barzani welcomed His Holiness and said: “On behalf of all communities in the Kurdistan Region, I warmly welcome you, Your Holiness. Your Holiness’ visit is a great historic event and the people of Kurdistan are very pleased and honored by it.”

The President of the Kurdistan Region stated: “We fully believe in religious freedom and a multi-faith society. Tolerance, coexistence, mutual respect among communities are the pillars of Kurdistan’s identity and culture. We intend to preserve this culture. We are always for peace and dialogue. We reject terror and extremism. We will never allow any religious or ethnic community to be subjected to terrorism and extremism.”

The President also stated that: “Kurdistan’s communities have fought against dictatorship and terrorism and have made great sacrifices together. Together, we share our past. We work together towards a shared and better future. Diversity, religious and ethnic communities have empowered and enriched Kurdistan Region. We do not want Christians, Yezidis, or any other community to leave their country.”

President Nechirvan Barzani reiterated that: “The Christian community is an ancient and main community of Kurdistan, who have peacefully contributed to the foundation, development and preserving the country in great ways. We have spared no efforts to protect them.”

The President concluded that: “Your Holiness’ visit will bring prosperity. We ask for your support and prayers for Kurdistan and all its communities.”

His Holiness Pope Francis stated: “Thank you very much, for this warm reception. I have wanted to visit the Kurdistan Region for a long time. I am happy that I was able to visit at your invitation. I greatly appreciate that you hosted the Christian refugees from Mosul and the Nineveh Plains, Qaraqosh and other communities, although you were fighting a war at the time. You have embraced the Christians.”

His Holiness also stated: “I am here to pray for you, for the Christians, and for all of humanity, together with you. The enemy came to destroy this country, but you managed to serve the country genuinely, and hosted the refugees and other groups of people. War is destruction and annihilation. But you defeated the enemy and reconstructed your country. I have come to visit this land. You are pure in heart. You have been compassionate towards all. Pray for me too. Thank you for everything that you do for all the faiths and communities. Freedom is in place in Kurdistan. Thank you again for your warm reception and hospitality.”

 

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