- Pope Francis's visit to Iraq took place between 5 March and 8 March 2021. The visit was accorded on following an invitation of the Government of Iraq and the local Catholic Church. The visit was remembered as an attempt to mend bridges between the different faiths in Iraq. With this visit, Pope Francis became the first Pope to visit Iraq.
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Jul 20, 2021 · Pope Francis saddened at loss of life in Iraq In a telegram sent on Tuesday evening through the Vatican Secretary of State, Pope Francis sends condolences for those who died in the bombing in Baghdad and renews his appeal for reconciliation in Iraq. By Vatican News staff writer
Jul 21, 2021 · Pope Francis in Iraq. Pope Francis visited Iraq in March earlier this year. In a video message sent before his trip, Pope Francis said: “I come as a pilgrim, as a penitent pilgrim to implore forgiveness and reconciliation from the Lord after years of war and terrorism, to ask God for the consolation of hearts and the healing of wounds”.
- Pilgrim of Peace
- State Visit
- Pope’s Greetings to Journalists Aboard The Papal Flight
- National Journalism Award
Pope Francis will spend four days in the Middle Eastern nation during which he will travel north and south as “a pilgrim seeking peace, fraternity and reconciliation”, as he himself has said. His intense schedule foresees moments of prayer and encounter with Christian communities and representatives of the Catholic Church in Iraq, as well as meetings to foster interreligious dialogue. As per protocol, the Pope’s first official meeting takes place at the Presidential Palace. During the courtesy visit he meets privately with President Barham Ahmed Salih Qassim.
The palace itself was constructed on the orders of King Faisal II who headed the nation between 1953 and 1958 after the murder of the reigning monarch. It was former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s preferred place to meet visiting Heads of State. The palace itself served as the MNF-I Headquarters of coalition troops during the occupation of Iraq, as well as the primary base of operations for the American diplomatic mission in Iraq until the opening of the new US Embassy in Baghdad in 2009. It was then returned to Iraqi control. After the courtesy visit with the President and his entourage, Pope Francis meets with political, civil and religious authorities, the diplomatic corps, the business world and representatives of cultural institutions.
During the four and a half hour flight, Pope Francis greeted the journalists travelling with him aboard the Alitalia A330 airplane. "I am happy to resume my travels," he said, describing this visit as "a duty to a land that has been martyred for so many years." He thanked those present for their work and their company. The director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, expressed everyone’s excitement to be travelling again after a hiatus of 15 months due to coronavirus restrictions. He thanked Pope Francis "for his willingness to make a pilgrimage to Iraq", and recalled his words a few days ago when he said he did not want to disappoint the people twice, referring to Pope St John Paul II wish to visit Iraq and the fact that he was never able to do so. Bruni then thanked the Pope for allowing quite a few journalists to accompany him on the journey, something that “was not to be taken for granted.”
He said there were "74 journalists from 15 countries" on the papal flight. During the exchange, the Pope was presented with a "Maria Grazia Cutuli" Italian National Journalism Award 2021, on the twentieth anniversary of her death in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. On the certificate, Pope Francis is described as a "Special Envoy" who "wearing out his shoes, travels the streets of the world in the name of Faith, Fraternity and Peace".
Mar 05, 2021 · Pope Francis landed in Iraq on Friday for a historic tour of the war-ravaged nation, where he met with members of the country's dwindling Christian community and aimed to draw attention to their...
Mar 05, 2021 · Pope Francis is going to Iraq The Pope is traveling again, for the first time since the coronavirus crisis. And what’s more, he’s picked a particularly interesting place to visit for this first...
Jul 21, 2021 · Pope Francis Speaks With Muslims: The trip to Iraq in context. The significance, on a theological level, of Pope Francis’ trip to Iraq in March 2021 emerges clearly only when placed in the larger theological, historical and chronological context. First of all, bear in mind that the pope comes from the continent with the lowest percentage of ...
- Beginning of Diaspora
- Interfaith Dialogue
- Economic Hardship and Insecurity
Before the US-led invasion of 2003, Christians of different denominations numbered about 1.6 million in Iraq. Today, less than 300,000 remain, according to figures provided by the Chaldean Church. Since then 58 churches have been damaged or destroyed and more than 1,000 Iraqi Christians have been killed for their faith. Under dictator Saddam Hussein, the Christian communities were tolerated and did not face significant security threats, although they were discriminated against. The diaspora started after the 2003 US-led invasion and the chaos that ensued when al-Qaeda initiated a campaign of targeted assassinations and kidnappings of priests and bishops, and attacks against churches and Christian gatherings. In October 2006, an orthodox priest, Boulos Iskander, was beheaded and in 2008 the group kidnapped and killed Archbishop Paulos Farah Rahho in Mosul. The same year, another priest and three worshippers were killed inside a church. In 2010, 48 worshippers were killed in a Syro-Ca...
The pope will meet Iraqi President Barham Salih and officials in Baghdad, where he is expected to raise concerns about the discrimination and intimidation faced by Christians. The pope, who in 2019 inaugurated a new phase of interfaith dialogue between the Roman Church and Islam, will also visit Najaf to meet Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the highest Shia authority in Iraq, where Shia Muslims represent about 70 percent of the total population. Representatives of other faiths and Iraq’s minority groups, including Sunni Muslims and Yazidis, are expected to attend an inter-religious meeting with the pope in Ur, in southern Iraq, which is widely considered the birthplace of Patriarch Abraham, the father of the three monotheistic faiths. “The visit has been hailed by all parties in Iraq as a symbol of the country opening a new page,” said Professor Nahro Zagros, an Iraqi political analyst in Erbil. “But there is a complex reality on the ground and I am afraid it will change little for...
Declining oil prices combined with mismanagement, corruption and an unfavourable business environment are deepening Iraq’s economic crisis, according to the World Bank. High unemployment rates and the coronavirus pandemic are putting 12 million people at risk of poverty. But it is not only the economic hardship that makes it difficult for Christians to return. The security situation is fragile and minorities feel no longer safe in Iraq. The Nineveh Plain is under the military control of Shia militias, while ISIL is still operational across the country. In January, ISIL conducted two suicide attacks in Baghdad killing 32 people, the first such big attack since the group lost its so-called caliphate in 2017. Christians have found relative calm in the Kurdish region. Thousands fleeing central Iraq settled there, building schools and churches. Some 150,000 are believed to be living in the region, where, in 2015, the Chaldean Church founded the Catholic University of Erbil, an institute...