From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter Eight
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved

    This file is attached to from "Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D." - Chapter Eight by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved.


Revelation 13:11 "And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon."
12 "And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed."
13 "And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,"
14 "And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live."
15 "And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed."

On 9/26/2015 Pope Francis Praises Interfaith Work
    Pope Francis Conducts Interfaith Ceremony at 9/11 Memorial.
    Today on his visit to the United States, Pope Francis visited the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.    There, against the backdrop of one of the original World Trade Center walls that remained standing after the 2001 attacks, he conducted a groundbreaking interfaith ceremony.
    Using the still-standing wall as a symbol of the strong leaders who have held the global population back from hatred, violence, and war, Pope Francis spoke of the urgent need for religious tolerance and peace, especially now, when religious tensions run high and religion is often viewed as a catalyst for violence.
    Addressing an audience of more than 400 representatives of international faith communities gathered in the memorial and hundreds of thousands more on the television and Internet, Pope Francis prayed for "eternal light and peace" for the victims of the September 11 attacks.    He also prayed for a change of heart in those who would use religion to justify hatred and violence.    He prayed for healing for all victims and survivors.
    The pope's interfaith gathering emphasized that the audience of different religions was not praying together, but praying in the presence of one another.    This distinction is at the heart of interfaith work; each faith remains separate and undiluted, but honors and respects the other faiths' rights to be present.
    The pope's words from the 9/11 Memorial echo the message of the United Religions Initiative, the world's largest grassroots interfaith organization with over 600,000 members in 91 countries.    "It is a source of great hope that in this place of sorrow and remembrance I can join with leaders representing the many religious traditions which enrich the life of this great city.    I trust that our presence together will be a powerful sign of our shared desire to be a force for reconciliation, peace and justice in this community and throughout the world.    For all our differences and disagreements, we can live in a world of peace."

Pope Francis Addresses the United Nations
    Pope Francis delivered a stirring address for the opening of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, in which he called on world leaders to "set aside partisan and ideological interests, and sincerely strive to serve the common good."
    Pope Francis emphasized that, "The ecological crisis, and the large-scale destruction of biodiversity, can threaten the very existence of the human species."    He said that a "right of the environment" exists because human beings are part of our environment and because every living creature has an intrinsic value.    He also highlighted the misuse of the environment as a cause of economic and social exclusion, "a complete denial of human fraternity and a grave offense against human rights" in today's "culture of waste."
    The United Religions Initiative (URI), the world's largest grass-roots interfaith organization, working in 91 countries with over 600,000 members, is a Non-Governmental Organization at the United Nations.    URI Executive Director Victor Kazanjian was present at the UN on September 24 for a religious leaders' meeting on the Moral Imperative to End Extreme Poverty to support the Sustainable Development Summit.    URI strongly supports the Pope's call for peace and environmental protection: "War is the negation of all rights and a dramatic assault on the environment.        If we want true integral human development for all, we must work tirelessly to avoid war between nations and between peoples."
    His Holiness strongly endorsed nuclear abolition.    "An ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction - and possibly the destruction of all mankind - are self-contradictory and an affront to the entire framework of the United Nations, which would end up as nations united by fear and distrust.    There is urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, in full application of the Non-proliferation Treaty, in letter and spirit, with the goal of a complete prohibition of these weapons."    URI is also a strong voice against nuclear weapons.    URI President and Founder The Right Rev. William E. Swing, along with Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons (one of URI's grassroots groups), aims to "create a global movement to eliminate nuclear weapons once and for all."    Swing has spoken at the United Nations Headquarters on the topic, as well as popularized a "Prayer for Those Whose Hearts Carry the Weight of Nuclear Weapons."
    We affirm Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's welcome to the Pope when he greeted the UN staff members: "Regardless of faith, we draw inspiration from your humility and humanity - and from your global call for action on social justice, climate change and ensuring a life of dignity for all."    The Secretary-General referred to the General Assembly hall, saying, "This chamber is sacred space."    This reflects the URI's purpose in bringing diverse voices of faith from around the world to the United Nations where countries gather in the pursuit of peace and the common good and for sharing the agenda of the UN with our members.
    Two specific UN Resolutions observed annually by URI members with programs and actions are the International Day of Peace (September 21) and World Interfaith Harmony Week (February 1-7).    URI looks forward to supporting the Sustainable Development Goals that were adopted today by the world's leaders at the United Nations following the Pope's address.
    We also applaud the organizers of the inspiring interfaith service at the site known to New Yorkers as "ground zero" since the tragic events of September 11, 2001.    It was heartwarming to see the eyes of the world on this deeply moving gathering of faith and hope.
    The healing of the wounds of September 11 combined with the UN's inauguration of the Sustainable Development Goals are signs that Pope Francis - a towering yet humble religious leader - is helping the world to usher in a new era of interfaith cooperation and a global culture of peace.
    May peace prevail on Earth.

On 1/28/2021 Pope Francis To Meet Iraq's Top Shi'ite Cleric On March Visit
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer on Epiphany, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak,
at the Vatican, January 6, 2021. Vatican Media/-Handout via REUTERS
    BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Pope Francis is set for an historic meeting with Iraq's top Shi'ite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, during a trip to Iraq planned for March, the patriarch of Iraq's Chaldean Catholic Church said a visit which eluded Francis's predecessors on March 5-8 by Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, Catholic cardinal and head of Iraq's biggest Christian denomination, will include Masses in Baghdad and the northern city of Erbil.
    The pope will visit the former Islamic State stronghold of Mosul which has a significant Christian minority, and the ruins of ancient Ur in southern Iraq, revered as the birthplace of Abraham, father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and will hold talks with one of the most important figures in Shi'ite Islam.
    Francis has visited predominately Muslim countries including Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, the United Arab Emirates and the Palestinian territories, using those trips to call for inter-religious dialogue.
    Iraq is trying to recover from the destruction caused by the campaign to defeat Islamic State, and beset by economic hardship after a fall in oil prices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Iraq has been home to Christian communities for centuries where hundreds of thousands of Christians fled sectarian violence after the fall of Saddam or were driven out when Islamic State captured much of the north in 2014.
    But hundreds of thousands remained, divided among a number of denominations, with the largest being Chaldean Catholics, who practice an ancient Syriac rite and are loyal to the pope.    Since Islamic State was driven from the north in 2017, Christians have largely recovered the freedom of worship.
[Urban life in Erbil can be dated back to at least 6,000 BC and it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and at the heart of the city is the ancient Citadel of Erbil, which is estimated to be close to 7,000 years old..].

On 2/1/2021 Pope Says He Is Intent On Making Iraq Trip Despite Difficulties
    Pope Francis said on Monday he is intent on making a trip to Iraq next month even if it means many Iraqi Christians won't be able to see him in person, but stated "I am the pastor of people who are suffering."
    The patriarch of Iraq's Chaldean Catholic Church said last week the pope would meet the country top Shi'ite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

On 2/25/2021 Iraqi Christians, Decimated By Islamist Violence, Prepare For Pope's Visit
Choir members practice at St. Joseph Chaldean Cathedral, where Pope Francis will hold a mass,
ahead of his planned visit to Iraq, in Baghdad, Iraq February 23, 2021. REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily
    ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraqi Christians are busy scrubbing churches, practising hymns and preparing for mass ahead of the first ever papal visit to the country, a four-day trip next month that is going ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic and security risks.
    "We hope that after the pope's visit, the situation of Christians will improve," said Amer Abdelahad, a Christian in Erbil, as he registered to attend a mass for 10,000 people in the northern city on Sunday, March 7.
    "Christians in Iraq suffered a lot over the past years, they are emigrating.    The pope will come and see this reality on the ground," he added, accompanied by his wife and daughter who will also be at the gathering.
    Ur, a city linked to the Old Testament figure of Abraham, and Erbil, Mosul and Qaraqosh in the plain of Nineveh.
    Father Dankha Joola, one of the main organisers of the visit to Erbil, said that more than 8,000 people had registered for the mass already.
    His biggest challenge is to implement social distancing at the outdoor stadium where the pope will lead the service.    The venue has a capacity of around 30,000, but numbers are limited to one third of that due to COVID-19 restrictions.
    Father Naswhan Cola, who is organising the religious service, said it would be unique, with prayers in Italian and an orchestra and choir of about 80 local volunteers performing hymns in Arabic and Syriac, the neo-Aramaic language spoken by Christians in northern Iraq.
    Before the mass in Erbil, Pope Francis will visit the city of Mosul and the nearby town of Qaraqosh, both under Islamic State occupation for three years.
    Mosul's once thriving Christian community is today reduced to no more than 70 families, while in Qaraqosh a relatively large number have returned, partly thanks to the church's role in leading reconstruction efforts and mobilising Christians.
    Dozens of volunteers were proud at the prospect of receiving the pope in the Grand Immaculate Church, Iraq's biggest, which doubled as a shooting range for Islamic State fighters before being ravaged by fire.     Some wiped the stone floor, stopping only to dance to Christian songs that resonated through the cavernous grey-stone edifice, still virtually empty since it was restored.
    "The pope's visit is not only for Iraq's Christians, but for the whole country," said Father Francis, who was helping put up posters of the pope around the streets of Qaraqosh.

On 3/1/2021 Experts hint against papal trip to Iraq
    VATICAN CITY - Infectious disease experts are expressing concern about Pope Francis' upcoming trip to Iraq, given a sharp rise in coronavirus infections there, a fragile health care system and the unavoidable likelihood that Iraqis will crowd to see him.
    No one wants to tell Francis to call it off, and the Iraqi government has every interest in showing off its relative stability by for the first time welcoming a pope to the birthplace of Abraham.    The March 5-8 trip is expected to provide a sorely needed spiritual boost to Iraq's beleaguered Christians while furthering the Vatican's bridge-building efforts with the Muslim world.

3/2/2021 Pope's Risky Trip To Iraq Defies Sceptics
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis meets Iraqi President Barham Salih at the Vatican,
January 25, 2020. Domenico Stinellis/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Rockets have hit Iraqi cities and COVID-19 has flared, yet, barring last-minute changes, Pope Francis will embark on a whirlwind four-day trip starting on Friday to show solidarity with the country's devastated Christian community.
    Keen to get on the road again after the pandemic put paid to several planned trips, he convinced some perplexed Vatican aides that it is worth the risk and that, in any case, his mind was made up, three Vatican sources said.
    "He is itching to get back out on the road after such a long period," said one Vatican official.    "Despite some misgivings, the general mood in here is that all systems are go."
    The March 5-8 trip will be Francis' first outside Italy since November 2019, when he visited Thailand and Japan.    Four trips planned for 2020 were cancelled because of COVID-19.
    "He really feels that need to reach out to people on their home ground," said the official, a Vatican prelate who is familiar with Iraq and who spoke on condition of anonymity.
    Vatican officials and local Church leaders say they are satisfied that Iraqi forces will be able to provide adequate security for the pope and his entourage.
    "The pope knows where he is going.    He is deliberately coming to an area marked by war and violence to bring a message of peace," Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil told reporters on a recent conference call.
    "The authorities are taking the pope's security very seriously, with 10,000 security personnel deployed for the purpose," he said.
    Conflict in Iraq, birthplace of the Prophet Abraham - who is revered by Christians, Muslims and Jews - made a trip by Francis' predecessors elusive.
    But while wars have ended, violence continues.
    A twin suicide attack in Baghdad killed at least 32 people in January.    The pope condemned the bombings.
    Last Monday, rockets hit Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, which hosts government buildings and foreign embassies.    There were no casualties.
    Francis, 84, has said it is important to make the trip even if most Iraqi Christians will see him only on television.
    "They will see the pope is there in their country," he told Catholic News Service last month, adding: "I am the pastor of people who are suffering," Several Vatican and Iraqi Church officials say they are doing everything possible to ensure that papal appearances do not turn out to be super-spreader events.
    The pope and his entourage, including the accompanying press corps, have been vaccinated.    But most people who will attend papal events have not.    A first batch of 50,000 doses is due to arrive in Iraq from China on Monday.
    Two gatherings at churches in Baghdad will be limited to about 100 people each, with social distancing and masks required.
    Up to 10,000 people will have numbered seats for a papal Mass in a stadium in Erbil that has a capacity of 30,000, and contact tracing will be possible if there is an outbreak, Warda said.
    Vatican and Iraqi planners of the trip got a sobering reminder of the spread of coronavirus in Iraq on Saturday when Archbishop Mitja Leskovar, the Vatican's ambassador there, said he had tested positive and had gone into self-isolation.
    Leskovar has been the key planner of the trip and he had been due to be at the pope's side throughout the visit.
    "This is not going to influence the pope's program, which is going on as planned," Leskovar told Reuters.
    For security reasons and so as not to draw crowds, the pope will use a closed car and not a popemobile on the streets, a Vatican source said. (Additional reporting by Charlotte Bruneau and John Davison in Baghdad; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

On 3/5/2021 Pope, Starting Risky Trip, Urges Iraq To End Violence
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi walks with Pope Francis upon his arrival at
Baghdad International Airport, in Baghdad, Iraq March 5, 2021. Vatican Media/-Handout via REUTERS
    BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Pope Francis began his most risky foreign trip on Friday, flying into Iraq amid the tightest security ever seen for a papal visit to appeal to the country's leaders and people to end militant violence and religious strife.
    The country has deployed thousands of security personnel to protect him during the visit, which comes after a spate of rocket and suicide bomb attacks and a spike in COVID-19 cases.
    Even before he landed, Francis told reporters on his plane that he felt duty-bound to make what he called an "emblematic" trip despite the difficulties because the country "has been martyred for so many years."
    At the official welcome in the presidential palace, the 84-year-old Francis, limping from what appeared to be a fresh flare-up of his painful sciatica, made an impassioned call for Iraqi to finally give peacemakers chance.
    "May the clash of arms be silenced ... may there be an end to acts of violence and extremism," he said.
    President Barham Salih thanked the pope for making the first-ever papal visit to Iraq "despite the many recommendations to delay" because of the pandemic and other challenges in "our wounded country."
    The fact that the pope came anyway "multiplies the value of this visit for the Iraqi people," the president said.
    Hundreds of people gathered in small clusters to see him being driven into Baghdad in bulletproof BMW, a departure for a pope who normally insists on using small, normal cars.
    A motorcade of dozens of vehicles accompanied him out of the airport compound, which recently came under rocket fire from militia groups.
    In his speech at the palace, Francis, looking tired at the start of his first foreign trip in 16 months, criticized factional and foreign interests that have destabilised Iraq and the wider region and hit ordinary people the hardest.
    "Iraq has suffered the disastrous effects of wars, the scourge of terrorism and sectarian conflicts often grounded in a fundamentalism incapable of accepting the peaceful coexistence of different ethnic and religious groups," Francis said.
    He later paid tribute to people killed in attacks motivated by religion, visiting a Baghdad church where Islamist gunmen killed about 50 worshippers in 2010.
    Their deaths were a reminder that "violence or the shedding of blood are incompatible with authentic religious teachings," he said.
    Iraq's security has improved since the defeat of Islamic State in 2017, but the country continues to be a theatre for global and regional score-settling, especially a bitter U.S.-Iran rivalry that has played out on Iraqi soil.
    The U.S. invasion of 2003, after years of international sanctions and a devastating war with Iran instigated by former leader Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, plunged Iraq into sectarian conflict and chronic mismanagement that has plagued it since.
    The pope's whirlwind four-day tour will take him by plane, helicopter and cars to four cities, including areas that most foreign dignitaries are unable to reach, let alone in such a short space of time.
    'This visit is one of a kind.    We are excited, and we all need this visit, all Iraqis do,' said an Iraqi Christian from Baghdad, Magin Derius.
    Iraq's Christian community, one of the oldest in the world, has fallen to about 300,000 from about 1.5 million about 20 years ago.
    On Saturday the pope will hold an unprecedented meeting with Iraq's top Shi'ite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, in the southern city of Najaf.    He will also visit Ur, birthplace of the Prophet Abraham, who is revered by Christians, Muslims and Jews, and will return to say Mass in Baghdad.
    On Sunday Francis travels north to Mosul, a former stronghold of Islamic State, where churches and other buildings there still bear the scars of conflict.
    Since the defeat of the Islamic State militants in 2017, Iraq has seen a greater degree of security, though violence persists, often in the form of rocket attacks by Iran-aligned militias on U.S. targets, and U.S. military action in response.
    Islamic State remains a threat.    In January, a suicide attack claimed by the Sunni militant group killed 32 people in Baghdad's deadliest such attack for years.

On 3/6/2021 Pope asks Iraq to embrace Christians
    BAGHDAD - Pope Francis opened the first-ever papal visit to Iraq on Friday with a plea for the country to protect its centuries-old diversity, urging Muslims to embrace their Christian neighbors as a precious resource and asking the embattled Christian community - "though small like a mustard seed" - to persevere.
    Francis brushed aside concerns over security and the coronavirus pandemic to resume his globe-trotting papacy after a yearlong hiatus spent under lockdown in Vatican City.    His primary aim is to encourage Iraq's dwindling Christian population, which was violently persecuted by the Islamic State group and still faces discrimination by the Muslim majority, to stay and help rebuild the country devastated by wars and strife.
    "Only if we learn to look beyond our differences and see each other as members of the same human family," Francis told Iraqi authorities in his welcoming address, "will we be able to begin an effective process of rebuilding and leave to future generations a better, more just and more humane world."
    The government is eager to show off the relative stability it has achieved after the defeat of the IS "caliphate."    Still, security measures were tight.
    But Francis told reporters aboard the papal plane that he was happy to be resuming his travels again and said it was particularly symbolic that his first trip was to Iraq, the traditional birthplace of Abraham, revered by Muslims, Christians and Jews.
    "This is an emblematic journey," he said.    "It is also a duty to a land tormented by many years."
    Francis, who relishes plunging into crowds and likes to travel in an open sided popemobile, was transported around Baghdad in an armored black BMWi750, flanked by rows of motorcycle police.    It was believed to be the first time Francis had used a bulletproof car - both to protect him and to keep crowds from forming.
    At a pomp-filled gathering with President Barham Salih at a palace inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, Francis said Christians and other minorities in Iraq deserve the same rights and protections as the Shiite Muslim majority.
    "The religious, cultural and ethnic diversity that has been a hallmark of Iraqi society for millennia is a precious resource on which to draw, not an obstacle to eliminate," he said.    "Iraq today is called to show everyone, especially in the Middle East, that diversity, instead of giving rise to conflict, should lead to harmonious cooperation in the life of society."
    Salih, a member of Iraq's ethnic Kurdish minority, echoed his call.
    "The East cannot be imagined without Christians," Salih said.    "The continued migration of Christians from the countries of the east will have dire consequences for the ability of the people from the same region to live together."

On 3/8/2021 Pope: Oppression of Islamic State should be forgiven
    Pope Francis visited Iraq on Sunday, drawing thousands to rebuilt churches, squares and an open-air sports venue as he urged Christians to forgive the oppression wrought during the brutal reign of the Islamic State group.
    The nation of 40 million people includes just a few hundred thousand Christians, a fraction of the number before nearly two decades of war since the U.S. invasion in 2003.
    In 2014, the Islamic State group seized Mosul and many Christian towns in the region, killing thousands and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee.    Scores of historical sites were severely damaged or destroyed.
    "Here in Mosul, the tragic consequences of war and hostility are all too evident," the pope said at Church Square.    "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, who were cruelly eliminated by terrorism, and others - forcibly displaced or killed."
    Francis said "fraternity is more durable than fratricide" and peace is more powerful than war.
    On Saturday, Francis met Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, spiritual leader of Iraq's Shiite Muslims, at his home in Najaf.    Francis remarked on the "dark clouds of terrorism, war and violence" in Iraq, saying all its ethnic and religious communities have suffered.
    "Yet, even at that dark time, some stars kept shining," the pope said.    "I think of the young Muslim volunteers of Mosul, who helped to repair churches and monasteries, building fraternal friendships on the rubble of hatred, and those Christians and Muslims who today are restoring mosques and churches together."
    Sistani said the responsibility to present a unified message to prevent persecution falls on religious leaders of all faiths.

On 3/8/2021 Iraq PM Urges National Dialogue After 'Love And Tolerance' Of Pope Visit
FILE PHOTO: Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi walks with Pope Francis upon his arrival at
Baghdad International Airport, in Baghdad, Iraq March 5, 2021. Vatican Media/-Handout via REUTERS
    BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's prime minister on Monday called on the country's rival political groups to use dialogue to solve their differences, a move he said would reflect the "love and tolerance" shown by Pope Francis' historic visit to the country.
    Iraq suffers from chronic mismanagement and corruption, and a steady level of violence often linked to the rivalry between Iran and the United States in the region 18 years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
    "In the atmosphere of love and tolerance promoted by the visit of His Holiness the Pope to the land of Iraq, we present today the call for a national dialogue,"     Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said in a televised speech.
    Many in Iraq hope the Papal visit will garner more international support for Kadhimi's government to handle sensitive crises, including reining in Iran-backed militias whose power and influence Kadhimi has sought to curb since taking office in May 2020.
    The prime minister said dialogue would help to reduce tension in his country and pave the way for a successful early election.
    Controlling armed groups which operate out of state control is still an significant challenge for the prime minister.
    Pope Francis ended his tour, the first ever papal visit to Iraq, on Monday after visiting conflict-torn cities, meeting Muslim and Christian leaders and preaching peace and coexistence over war.    The visit had started on Friday.
    The pontiff also made a rare first event in meeting Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's top Shi'ite Muslim cleric who is one of the most important figures in Shi'ite Islam, both within Iraq and beyond.
(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed, Editing by William Maclean)

On 3/8/2021 Pope Defends Iraqi Trip Despite COVID-19 Risk, Says God Will Provide
Pope Francis gives a news conference aboard the papal plane on his flight back after visiting Iraq, March 8, 2021. REUTERS/Yara Nardi/Pool
    ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Monday that he decided to visit Iraq despite a rise in COVID-19 cases after much prayer and contemplation and suggested God would protect those who came to see him from the virus.
    Speaking to reporters on the plane returning from his trip, Francis also said he realised that some conservative Catholics would see his meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, as "one step from heresy" but that sometimes it was necessary to take a risk in inter-religious relations.
    But he said he felt "reborn" after "feeling like I was imprisoned" by coronavirus restrictions.    He added that "84 years do not come without baggage" and that he could not say if he would make fewer trips in the future.
    One of the most significant moments of the trip was the pope's meeting on Saturday in the holy city of Najaf with the 90-year-old Sistani, one of the most influential figures in Shi'ite Islam, both within Iraq and beyond.
    "Sometimes you just have to take a risk," he said of the meeting.
    "There are some critics who say that the pope is not courageous, but reckless, that he is doing things against Catholic doctrine that are one step away from heresy," he said.
    Throughout his papacy, conservatives have criticised his opening to the Muslim world, including the signing in 2019 of a joint document on inter-religious fraternity during a visit to Abu Dhabi.    That visit was the first by a pope to the Arabian peninsula, home of Islam's most sacred sites.
    "These are risks but these decision are always taken in prayer," he said, adding that he found Sistani to be "a great sage, a man of God," and that the meeting "did my soul good."
    On Sunday morning in Mosul, Francis heard Muslim and Christian residents in the ruined city tell of their lives under Islamic State, which occupied it from 2014 to 2017.
    He told reporters the visit to Mosul, where he sat surrounded by the wreckage of buildings, dangling concrete staircases, and cratered ancient churches, had left him shocked by the "unbelievable cruelty" that took place.
    Francis said he badly wanted to make a visit to Lebanon as soon as possible to show solidarity with the people of all religions suffering there.

On 3/29/2021 Watching the "End Of The Ages" presented "UNITED RELIGIOUS INITIATIVE"
    The Initiative is connected to the "Sustainable Development Goals" of the One World Government and the UNITED NATIONS and it may connect with Revelation 13:7 and 11-15 mention of the False Prophet regarding a document "Human Fraternity For World Peace And Living Together," connected with Pope Francis and Ahmed Tayeb and Iman Abu-Dhabi signal of above issues:
1) The Pluralism And Diversity Of Religions Are Willed By God In His Wisdom.
2) Therefore The Fact That People Are Forced To Adhere To Certain Religions Or Culture Must Be Rejected.
    This is opposed in the Bible in:
John 14:6 "I am the way and the truth and the life.    No one comes to the Father except through me."    If Jesus is merely one more religious teacher out of countless others, then his claim would be absurd. ...
Ephesians 4:5-6 5 "One Lord, one faith, one baptism," 6 "One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
Galations 1:8 8 "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."
    The Pope went to Iraq to celebrate anniversary of a document signing, which is why he held Interfaith Prayer Service of the birthplace of Abraham, the ruins of Ur with several interfaiths to all religions or better said ONE WORLD RELIGION the Interfaith Movement which leads to Revelation 13:11-15.
Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb
    Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb is an Egyptian Islamic scholar and the current Grand Imam of al-Azhar and former president of al-Azhar University.    He was appointed by the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, following the death of Mohamed Sayed Tantawy in 2010.    He is from Kurna, Luxor Governorate in Upper Egypt, and he belongs to a Sufi family.
    On November 7, 2017, he met Pope Francis in the Vatican, to discuss spreading the culture of peace and coexistence and renouncing extremism and Islamophobia.    In February 2019, they met again in Abu Dhabi during the Pope's visit to the United Arab Emirates, where he also signed the Document on Human Fraternity.    On November 15, 2019, they met again in the Vatican, to achieve the goals of the signed document.

[THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE LOOKS MORE LIKE A "UNITED RELIGIOUS INITIATIVE" FOR interfaiths to all religions or better said ONE WORLD RELIGION the Interfaith Movement Initiative which is connected to the "Sustainable Development Goals" of the Global Socialist One World Government and the UNITED NATIONS desguised as "Faith and Science: Towards COP26" BUT AS YOU READ BELOW IT IS A WAR ON CREATION AND ALL OF US KNOW WHO IS THE CREATOR.].
10/4/2021 Pope, Other Religious Leaders Issue Pre-COP26 Appeal On Climate Change by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis takes part in the "Faith and Science: Towards COP26" meeting with other religious leaders ahead of the United Nations
Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November in Britain, at the Vatican, October 4, 2021. Vatican Media/-Handout via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis and other religious leaders made a joint appeal on Monday for next month's U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) to offer concrete solutions to save the planet from "an unprecedented ecological crisis."
    The "Faith and Science: Towards COP26" meeting brought together Christian leaders including Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, as well as representatives of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism and Jainism.
    "COP26 in Glasgow represents an urgent summons to provide effective responses to the unprecedented ecological crisis and the crisis of values that we are presently experiencing, and in this way to offer concrete hope to future generations," the pope said.
    "We want to accompany it with our commitment and our spiritual closeness," he said in an address which he gave to participants instead of reading out in the Vatican's frescoed Hall of Benedictions so that others had more time to speak.
    The appeal, which described climate change as a "grave threat," was handed to Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and Britain's Alok Sharma, president of COP26 in Glasgow.
    "The faith leaders who have come here today represent around 3/4 of the world's population.    That is by any measure a significant percentage of people across the globe and that’s why their voice matters so much," Sharma said after the meeting, which was organised by the Vatican, Britain and Italy.
    Welby, spiritual leader of the world's Anglicans, called for a "global financial architecture which repents of its past sins," including changes in tax rules to promote green activity.
    "We have in the past 100 years declared war on creation... Our war against the climate affects the poorest among us," Welby said.
    The appeal urges all governments to adopt plans to help limit the rise in the average global temperature to 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to achieve net-zero carbon emissions as soon as possible.
    Wealthier countries must take the lead in reducing their own emissions and in financing poorer nations' emission reductions, it said.
    "We plead with the international community, gathered at COP26, to take speedy, responsible and shared action to safeguard, restore and heal our wounded humanity and the home entrusted to our stewardship," said the appeal, which followed months of online meetings among the 40 or so religious leaders.
    Several participants stressed that no nation could go it alone.
    "If one nation sinks, we all sink," said Rajwant Singh, a Sikh leader from the United States, who sang a poem for the participants.
    In his written address, Francis said cultural and religious differences should be seen as a strength, not a weakness, in defending the environment.
    "Each of us has his or her religious beliefs and spiritual traditions, but no cultural, political or social borders or barriers prevent us from standing together," he said.
    The Vatican's foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, told Reuters on Sunday he hoped Monday's meeting could "raise ambitions" on what can be achieved at Glasgow.
    Scotland's bishops said in July that the pope would attend the opening of COP26, health permitting.    A decision is expected in the next few days.
    Francis, 84, strongly supports the goals of the 2015 U.N. Paris accord to reduce global warming.    He told young people at the weekend that theirs was "perhaps the last generation" to save the planet.
    U.S. President Joe Biden returned the United States to the Paris accords after his predecessor Donald Trump pulled it out.    Biden and the pope are expected to meet at the Vatican at the end of October.
(Reporting by Philip PullellaEditing by Gareth Jones)

    This page created on 3/29/2021, and updated on 10/5/2021

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