- Apr 18, 2021
“That’s something that the pope is trying to do, but it’s very difficult,” Gallagher said when asked if he though part of Francis’ sense of urgency to go to Iraq despite the COVID-19 pandemic and safety concerns was the risk of Christianity disappearing from the Middle East.
Pope Francis on Monday wrapped up his historic whirlwind tour of Iraq that sought to bring hope to the country’s marginalized Christian minority with a message of coexistence, forgiveness and peace.
Although the impact of papal trips is often hard to assess in the immediate aftermath, such cautions mean little to the leader of Iraq’s local Catholic church, who quickly proclaimed Pope Francis’s March 5-8 visit to his nation a “miracle” on Sunday.
Having witnessed or even experienced persecution for their faith, the Christians of Iraq must be careful not to harbor thoughts of revenge, Pope Francis told them.
Speaking to a crowd that saw its girls and women sold as property by Islamic State terrorists, and on the eve of International Women’s Day, Pope Francis gave a “heartfelt thank-you to all the mothers and women of this country, women of courage who continue to give life, despite the wrongs and hurts.”
The “tragic diminution of Jesus’ disciples here and across the Middle East,” the pope said, “does incalculable harm not just to the individuals and communities concerned, but also to the society they leave behind.”
In the Bible, Abraham comes on the scene at the very beginning of recorded history.
If you’d polled 100 Vatican officials and papal diplomats six months ago, probably 99 would have counseled against a papal trip to Iraq.