Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 84, is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was elected Pope in March, 2013. He is the first pope from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, the first non-European pope since the 8th Century, and the first pope to choose the name Francis, in honor Saint Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). He arrived yesterday in Baghdad to begin a 4-day trip to Iraq.
Pope Francis said upon arrival: “May the clash of arms be silenced… may there be an end to acts of violence and extremism, factions and intolerance!” Also, “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.”
Christians and Muslims have had a difficult time getting along. One of the intriguing moments of history was a 1219 peacemaking visit by Francis of Assisi to the Sultan of Egypt during the Fifth Crusade. As this Francis makes his peacemaking journey, he will no doubt be conscious of the efforts of the earlier Francis. May their peacemaking tribe increase.