- Mar 4, 2021
As Pope Francis packed his bags to travel internationally for the first time in 15 months, news stories were flashing warnings about the dangers of his March 5-8 visit to Iraq, not only due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also because of Iraq’s long-term security problems, including bomb and rocket attacks.
Pope Francis’s upcoming apostolic visit to Iraq offers Americans a time for prayer and solidarity with the pope and the Iraqi people, said two leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Pope Francis told the people of Iraq he was going to their country as a “penitential pilgrim,” asking God’s forgiveness for years of war, persecution and destruction, and as a “pilgrim of peace.”
It began like any other Sunday in the Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad for worshipper Louis Climis. That day nearly 11 years ago would end with blood-stained pews, anguish and lives lost.
Pope Francis is set to become the first pontiff to set a foot in Iraq on Friday, when he lands in Baghdad after a four-hour trip from Rome.
Pope Francis is pushing ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite rising coronavirus infections, hoping to encourage the country’s dwindling number of Christians who were violently persecuted during the Islamic State’s insurgency while seeking to boost ties with the Shiite Muslim world.
The 1,200 Chaldean Catholic families who live in Arizona are thousands of miles from the land of their birth. On March 5, their hearts will turn toward their native Iraq.
In Iraq’s holiest city, a pontiff will meet a revered ayatollah and make history with a message of coexistence in a place plagued by bitter divisions.