Pope Francis to Persecuted Iraqi Christian Community: ‘Your Name is Written on God’s Heart’

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Currents News Staff

Back in Baghdad, Pope Francis celebrated Mass using the Chaldean rite. The liturgy took place at the Cathedral of St. Joseph, with the small Christian community still in Iraq.

The building has a smaller capacity than the world’s great cathedrals. But there was an unmistakeable sense of tenderness, to which the pontiff contributed with his homily on the Beatitudes.

“Dear sister, dear brother, perhaps when you look at your hands, they seem empty,” Pope Francis said. “Perhaps you feel disheartened and unsatisfied by life. If so, do not be afraid: the Beatitudes are for you. For you who are afflicted, who hunger and thirst for justice, who are persecuted.”

In his sermon about the Beatitudes, Jesus places the poor, the afflicted and the forsaken at the center. That’s why the pontiff told Iraq’s Christians that God has not forgotten them.

“The Lord promises you that your name is written on His heart, written in heaven,” Pope Francis said. “Today I thank God with you and for you, because here, where wisdom arose in ancient times, so many witnesses have arisen in our own time, often overlooked by the news, yet precious in God’s eyes.”

The Holy Father communicated a message of hope to Christians who have suffered under the most brutal and bloody persecutions of the last years.

He said, “Jesus’ invitation is wise because love, which is the heart of the Beatitudes, even if it seems weak in the world’s eyes, in fact always triumphs. … That same love made the martyrs victorious in their trials—and how many martyrs have there been in the last century, more even than in the past!”

The liturgy followed the Chaldean rite, one of Christianity’s oldest, which has been enriched over the centuries. In it music plays a central role. This was the first Mass the pontiff celebrated with the region’s Christian community. The president of Iraq, though not a Christian, was present.