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Pope Francis in the Nineveh Plains: “Terrorism and death never have the last word”

Pope Francis entrusted the rebuilding of Christian communities in the Nineveh Plains to the protection of the Virgin Mary at a church that was once desecrated and burned by the Islamic State.

The pope prayed the Sunday Angelus on March 7 with Christians at a church in Bakhdida, also known as Qaraqosh, a town 20 miles southeast of Mosul occupied by ISIS from 2014 to 2016.

“Our gathering here today shows that terrorism and death never have the last word. The last word belongs to God and to his Son, the conqueror of sin and death,” Pope Francis said in the Syriac Catholic Immaculate Conception Church.

“Even amid the ravages of terrorism and war, we can see, with the eyes of faith, the triumph of life over death.”

The pope said he was moved by the testimonies shared of Christians from the region once devastated by the Islamic State, particularly that of Doha Sabah Abdallah.

“Now is the time to rebuild and to start afresh, relying on the grace of God, who guides the destinies of all individuals and peoples,” the pope said.

“You are not alone! The entire Church is close to you, with prayers and concrete charity.”

Before the pope’s remarks, Syriac Patriarch Ignatius Youssef III Younan of Antioch thanked Catholic charitable organizations that worked to rebuild destroyed churches and homes in the region, enabling Christians to return. He mentioned Aid to the Church in Need, L’Œuvre d’Orient, the Knights of Columbus, and the Hungarian government.

“Let us pray tirelessly for the conversion of hearts and for the triumph of a culture of life, reconciliation and fraternal love between all men and women, with respect for differences and diverse religious traditions, in the effort to build a future of unity and cooperation between all people of goodwill,” he said.

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