The Pope Francisco said Monday that traveled to Iraq after much thought and knowing the risks, explained to reporters on the flight back from his visit three days the Arab country. The Pontiff pointed out that his meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani was one of the most important moments of his visit.

The Pontiff stressed that the Shiite religious leader, who does not usually stand up to anyone, did so on two occasions to shake hands. “He is a person who has wisdom and prudence.

He told me that for 10 years he has not received people who come to visit him for other reasons, political or cultural, only religious. He was very respectful in the meeting. I felt honored. He greeted me, he never gets up. And he got up twice to greet me. A humble and wise man. This meeting was good for my soul, “he explained.

The Pontiff acknowledged that he had doubted whether or not to carry out the trip due to the pandemic and for security reasons. “The trips cook with time, in my conscience and this (the pandemic) is something that made me doubt, but I have prayed a lot and I have freely made a decision that came from within.” And he added: “I told myself, the one who makes me decide (God), to take care of the people. And thus make the decision, after prayer and knowing the risks.”

Francisco confessed that the decision of the trip came far, from the requests of the ambassadors and the Iraqi president , but that what moved him the most was reading the book of Nadia Murad, the young Yazidi turned slave by the Islamic State and who received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to eradicate sexual violence as a weapon in wars and armed conflicts.

“It is in the history of the Yazidis where Nadia Murad tells some terrible things. I advise you to read it. For me it was the background of my decision. It is a book that I carry inside, and also Nadia, who came to tell me terrible things. All these things together influenced the decision, “he explained.

About the Islamic State
Francisco explained that in the city of Mosul , a symbol of jihadist horror, when he passed in front of the great (Syrian-Catholic) destroyed church, he was speechless. “One cannot believe it. This church was destroyed, but also others and mosques, which you see did not like these people (the terrorists of the Islamic State). You cannot believe what human cruelty reaches,” he said.

When he was praying before the devastated church, the Pope commented that the question came to his mind: “Who sells weapons to these destroyers? Because weapons are not built by them at home. Maybe some explosives, but not weapons. Who is responsible? I would ask that those who sell them the weapons, at least, have the sincerity to say that they are “.

“In these months I felt in prison”
The Pope said he had felt these past months, unable to travel and unable to have contact with people, as in a prison. “I feel different when I am away from the people and I would like to start the general hearings again soon. We hope that the conditions are met, but I follow the indications of the authorities who are responsible,” he said.

“After these months in prison, because I felt in a prison, the truth that this for me (being in contact with the people) is reviving, because it is touching the Church, touching the holy people of God,” he added.

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