It is not right to hate
The following is the English text of the introductory words and the Prayer for the Victims of War that Pope Francis offered on Sunday morning, 7 March, in Mosul.
Before we pray in this city of Mosul for all the victims of war, in Iraq and in the entire Middle East, I would like to share with you these thoughts: If God is the God of life — for so he is — then it is wrong for us to kill our brothers and sisters in his Name.
If God is the God of peace — for so he is — then it is wrong for us to wage war in his Name.
If God is the God of love — for so he is — then it is wrong for us to hate our brothers and sisters.
Let us now join in praying for all the victims of war. May Almighty God grant them eternal life and unending peace, and welcome them into his fatherly embrace. Let us pray too for ourselves. May all of us — whatever our religious tradition — live in harmony and peace, conscious that in the eyes of God, we are all brothers and sisters.
Most High God, Lord of all ages, you created the world in love and never cease to shower your blessings upon your creatures. From beyond the sea of suffering and death, from beyond all temptations to violence, injustice and unjust gain, you accompany your sons and daughters with a Father’s tender love.
Yet we men and women, spurning your gifts and absorbed by all-too-worldly concerns have often forgotten your counsels of peace and harmony. We were concerned only with ourselves and our narrow interests. Indifferent to you and to others, we barred the door to peace. What the prophet Jonah heard said of Nineveh was repeated: the wickedness of men rose up to heaven (cf. Jonah 1:2). We did not lift pure hands to heaven (cf. 1 Tim 2:8), but from the earth there arose once more the cry of innocent blood (cf. Gen 4:10). In the Book of Jonah, the inhabitants of Nineveh heeded the words of your prophet and found salvation in repentance. Lord, we now entrust to you the many victims of man’s hatred for man. We too implore your forgiveness and beg the grace of repentance: Kyrie eleison! Kyrie eleison! Kyrie eleison!
(Brief moment of silence)
Lord our God, in this city, we see two signs of the perennial human desire for closeness to you: the Al-Nouri Mosque, with its Al-Hadba minaret, and the Church of Our Lady of the Hour, whose clock for more than a century has reminded passersby that life is short and that time is precious. Teach us to realize that you have entrusted to us your plan of love, peace and reconciliation, and charged us to carry it out in our time, in the brief span of our earthly lives. Make us recognize that only in this way, by putting it into practice immediately, can this city and this country be rebuilt, and hearts torn by grief be healed. Help us not to pass our time in promoting our selfish concerns, whether as individuals or as groups, but in serving your loving plan. And whenever we go astray, grant that we may heed the voice of true men and women of God and repent in due time, lest we be once more overwhelmed by destruction and death.
To you we entrust all those whose span of earthly life was cut short by the violent hand of their brothers and sisters; we also pray to you for those who caused such harm to their brothers and sisters. May they repent, touched by the power of your mercy.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.