March 4, 2021
WASHINGTON — Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and chairman of USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace call for prayer and solidarity with the Holy Father and the people of Iraq:
“We call on 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 as he stands in solidarity with the local Church and promotes peaceful coexistence among all people of Iraq.
“This is the first papal visit to Iraq and presents a critical opportunity to remember the suffering people of Iraq. We share in the Holy Father’s message of solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters who are a part of the rich and ancient cultural fabric of the region and yet have undergone great trials in recent years, dwindling significantly in number amidst much conflict. We commend the good work of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association and Catholic Relief Services in Iraq and urge the faithful’s generous support of such organizations on this occasion.
“We join our prayers to those of Mary our Blessed Mother, whose name is highly revered among the people of this land, beseeching that the anticipated interreligious meetings will be marked by new pathways of mutual understanding and peace. As Pope Francis exhorts in Evangelii gaudium, may these encounters be marked by ‘an attitude of openness in truth and in love.’”
“May this moment in history mark a renewed hope for the Church in Iraq, the rebuilding of this society, and peaceful coexistence for all.”