Pope Francis on Friday sent a message to Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin and the Israeli people during his flyover of the country en route from Rome to Iraq.

“To His Excellency Reuven Rivlin, president of the State of Israel. Entering Israeli airspace on my Apostolic journey to Iraq, I send warm greetings to you and the people of the nation,” he said. “Praying that almighty God will bless you all with His gift of harmony and peace.”

During this first-ever papal visit to Iraq, Pope Francis met with representatives of the three Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—in Ur of the Chaldeans on Saturday. He also traveled to Najaf, where he held a historic meeting with Great Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq’s highest religious authority and a prominent Shi’ite leader.

Rivlin said he was deeply moved by the pope’s words, emphasizing their warm relationship and close contact, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.


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