The pope flew in by helicopter from nearby Erbil, and was greeted by crowds in the decimated northern Iraqi city, where just a handful of Christian families now live thousands of Christians fled the area during the IS occupation, where they were faced with conversion, death, or paying a tax for non-Muslims.
Christians were among those targeted by IS when they seized the region in 2014, carrying out human rights abuses. The Pope has arrived in the city of Mosul where he is praying among the ruins of its churches, several of which were destroyed during the fighting.
On the way to the venue, he stopped by the ruins of homes and cathedrals that had been destroyed by IS violence, to hold a moment of silence.
He then took part in the service from a once-bustling city square, surrounded by the ruins of several damaged churches, which were destroyed when IS overran the area in 2014.
“How cruel it is that this country, the cradle of civilization, should have been afflicted by so barbarous a blow, with ancient places of worship destroyed and many thousands of people – Muslims, Christians, Yazidis and others – forcibly displaced or killed,” he told the crowd. Today, however, we reaffirm our conviction that fraternity is more durable than fratricide, that hope is more powerful than hatred, that peace more powerful than war