Pope Francis in Iraq: Peace, Prayer and a Sign of Hope

I’ve been listening to Vatican News coverage of the Pope’s trip to Iraq.

Watching, too. All 53 minutes and 42 seconds of that video.

I’d have preferred seeing more of the medal presented to Iraqi authorities.

And the speeches were pretty much what I expected: reviews of past events, current situations and future hopes.

That drama deficit is probably why I haven’t seen much about the current papal visit in American news. Which isn’t, I think, an altogether bad thing. And that’s another topic.

About the medal: I gather that it celebrated Abram/Abraham, and his roots in territory we’re currently calling Iraq.

And I think it’s a smart diplomatic move.

Abraham, Ur and Options

We know about Sumerian Urim, AKA Akkadian Uru and Arabic ūr.

It was a coastal city back in its prime. That was four millennia back now, give or take a few centuries.

These days, it’s an archaeological site, some 155 miles, 250 kilometers, inland. The city didn’t move, but the coastline has.

The last I checked, archaeologists and historians haven’t decided where, when and what “Ur of the Chaldeans” was.

It could be our Urim/Uru/Ur. But if that’s so, we’d need explanations for why Abram/Abraham’s home town got connected with folks who weren’t there in his day.

Letting that upset me is an option, but not a reasonable one. Getting a positive ID on Abraham’s Ur would be nice. But considering how much has happened since he moved out, I’m impressed that we know as much as we do.

In any case, Pope Leo XIII had a good idea:

“…God, the Creator and Ruler of all things, is also the Author of the Scriptures — and that therefore nothing can be proved either by physical science or archaeology which can really contradict the Scriptures. … Even if the difficulty is after all not cleared up and the discrepancy seems to remain, the contest must not be abandoned; truth cannot contradict truth….”
(“Providentissimus Deus,” Pope Leo XIII (November 18, 1893) [emphasis mine])

“…A Sign of Promise and Hope….”

The 'Chagall Window,' United Nations Headquarters; a memorial to Dag Hammarskjöld, second UN Secretary-General. (1964)This is the 33rd international apostolic trip for Pope Francis. And his first to Iraq. Maybe the first of any pope to Iraq. I’d have to check on that.

Pope Francis, along with other folks in that video, has been talking about peace. Which I think is a good idea.

“…Today we, Jews, Christians and Muslims, together with our brothers and sisters of other religions, honour our father Abraham by doing as he did: we look up to heaven and we journey on earth.
“We look up to heaven. Thousands of years later, as we look up to the same sky, those same stars appear….
“…By his fidelity to God, Abraham became a blessing for all peoples … God loves every people, every one of his daughters and sons! Let us never tire of looking up to heaven, of looking up to those same stars that, in his day, our father Abraham contemplated….”
(Apostolic Journey to the Republic of Iraq: Interreligious meeting at the Plain of Ur; Pope Francis (March 6, 2021))

“…This evening I want to thank you for your efforts to be peacemakers, within your communities and with believers of other religious traditions, sowing seeds of reconciliation and fraternal coexistence that can lead to a rebirth of hope for everyone.
“Here I think especially of the young. Young people everywhere are a sign of promise and hope, but particularly in this country. Here you have not only priceless archeological treasures, but also inestimable treasure for the future: the young!…”
(Apostolic Journey to the Republic of Iraq: Meeting with Bishops, Priests, Religious, Consecrated Persons, Seminarians, Catechists; Syro-Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation; Baghdad; Pope Francis (March 5, 2021))

Masks and Miscellanea

Me, wearing a face mask. At my desk, which isn't at all usual. (January 23, 2021)I don’t know why Pope Francis and others weren’t wearing face mask.

Or why a cameraman’s nose wasn’t covered, while another person was wearing a face mask correctly.

Correctly by CDC standards, that is.

I’ll assume that everyone there had good reasons for wearing or not wearing face masks. Which is no virtue on my part. I wear a face mask on my rare outings because it’s a rule here in Minnesota, and because for me it’s an easy way to cooperate.

Wrapping this up, folks at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops asked “…all the faithful and people of good will in the United States to pray for the success and safety of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Iraq March 5-8….”

Eugeniusz Kazimirowski's 'Divine Mercy.' (1934)That made sense to me, so I added a rosary to my usual routine today.

My usual routine includes two Divine Mercy chaplets.

But not, oddly enough, a rosary. I had to look up a ‘how-2’ for that very ‘Catholic’ prayer:

I’ve talked about peace, prayer, and acting as if ‘love my neighbor’ mattered before. Often:

About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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