As Pope Francis makes his historic visit to Iraq this week, peace activist Kathy Kelly hopes he can find ways to atone for the war crimes and atrocities committed on Iraqi people.
The pontiff’s visit comes 30 years after the start of the war on Iraq and subsequent economic sanctions, that among other results led to the death of a half million Iraqi children, under the age of five.
“We’re sorry for coldly viewing your land as a ‘target rich environment” and then systematically destroying your electrical facilities, sewage and sanitation plants, roads, bridges, infrastructure, health care, education, and livelihood,” Kelly writes. “We’re sorry for believing we somehow had a right to the oil in your land, and we’re sorry many of us lived so well because we were consuming your precious and irreplaceable resources at cut-rate prices.
“We’re sorry for slaughtering hundreds of thousands of your children through economic sanctions and then expecting you to thank us for liberating you. We’re sorry for wrongfully accusing you of harboring weapons of mass destruction while we looked the other way as Israel acquired thermonuclear weapons.
“We’re sorry for again traumatizing your children through the 2003 “Shock and Awe” bombing, filling your broken-down hospitals with maimed and bereaved survivors of the vicious bombing and then causing enormous wreckage through our inept and criminal occupation of your land.
“We’re sorry. We’re so very sorry. And we want to pay reparations.
“From March 5 to 8, Pope Francis will visit Iraq. Security concerns are high, and I won’t begin to second guess the itinerary that has been developed. But knowing of his eloquent and authentic plea to end wars and stop the pernicious weapons trade, I wish that Francis could kneel and kiss the ground at the Amiriyah shelter in Baghdad.”