On March 7, Pope Francis has visited the destroyed Armenian church in the Iraqi city of Mosul, said journalist Ines San Martin who is covering the Pope’s pilgrimage.
The “tragic diminution of Jesus’ disciples here and across the Middle East,” the pope said, “does incalculable harm not just to the individuals and communities concerned, but also to the society they leave behind,” the Pope said, according to San Martin, per PanArmenian.
In Mosul, the former capital of the self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate, Francis reaffirmed the conviction that “fraternity is more durable than fratricide, that hope is more powerful than hatred, that peace more powerful than war.”
“Before leaving Mosul, Pope Francis made a private visit to the destroyed Syriac Orthodox and the Armenian churches,” Ines San Martin tweeted.
Before the rise of the Islamic State, around 15,000 Armenians had remained in Iraq post the U.S. invasion, primarily in the cities of Baghdad, Basrah, Kirkuk, and Mosul. After IS militants took control of Mosul in June 2014, around 60 Armenian families and other Christians fled to the provinces of Kurdistan. Reportedly, there are almost no Armenians left in Mosul today. Pope Francis made a three-day visit to Armenia in June 2016.
Photo by Paul Haring / Catholic News Service