Pope Francis reveals the date of his historic visit to Iraq
On Monday, Pope Francis said that he intends to visit Iraq next month, even if this means that many Iraqi Christians will not be able to see him in person due to the restrictions of Covid-19.
“I care for people who are suffering,” he told the Catholic New Service agency of the American Bishops’ Conference. He added that it is important “for them to see that the Pope is visiting their country,” even if most of them will only see him on television for reasons of social distancing.
The 84-year-old Pope intends to go ahead and make the scheduled visit between the fifth and eighth of March, unless there is a serious wave of cases of coronavirus infection there.
The Patriarch of the Iraqi Chaldean Catholic Church said, last week, that the Pope will meet during the visit with the supreme authority of the Iraqi Shiites, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
The visit, which eluded the ancestors of Pope Francis, will take place amid deteriorating security in some areas of Iraq, and after the first major suicide bombing in Baghdad three years ago.
Iraq has been home to centuries-old Christian communities. Hundreds of thousands of Christians fled during the sectarian violence that followed Saddam’s fall, or were driven from their homes after ISIS seized large parts of the north of the country in 2014. Source