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Biden: Pope's Iraq trip 'a symbol of hope for the entire world'

Biden: Pope's Iraq trip 'a symbol of hope for the entire world'
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President Biden on Monday praised Pope FrancisPope FrancisBishops to debate banning communion for president Vatican warns bishops not to deny communion to Biden, politicians over abortion We must end the nuclear threat before it ends us MORE’s visit to Iraq, calling the pontiff's tour through the country a “symbol of hope for the entire world.”

“Pope Francis’ visit was a historic and a 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,’ ” Biden said.

Francis landed in Iraq on Friday, marking the first time there has been a papal visit to the country.

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The purpose of his visit was to offer encouragement to Iraq’s Christian population, which has faced persecution by the Islamic State group.

The visit had been discouraged by health experts who were concerned that the pope's visit could draw large crowds and worsen the coronavirus pandemic in Iraq.

The pope visited the northern city of Qaraqosh on Sunday where he gave remarks at a city church. During his address, he lamented attacks that have been carried out by terrorist groups within the nation against the Christians, Muslims and Yazidis.

“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,” Biden continued.

Francis also held a historic meeting with Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani on Saturday during which the pope reportedly thanked al-Sistani for speaking up in defense of persecuted people.

"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," Biden said.