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Pope to go to Iraq in first abroad journey since coronavirus pandemic

Pope Francis will make the primary go to by a pope to Iraq subsequent yr, the Vatican has stated, a dangerous journey that eluded his predecessors.

The Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni, stated the pontiff, who turns 84 subsequent week, would go to the capital, Baghdad, and Ur, a metropolis linked to the Previous Testomony determine of Abraham, in addition to Erbil, Mosul and Qaraqosh within the Nineveh plains, from 5-8 March. It will likely be his first journey in additional than a yr in spite of everything his abroad visits had been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The programme of the journey will probably be made recognized sooner or later, and can think about the evolution of the worldwide well being emergency,” Bruni stated.

The Iraqi authorities described the deliberate go to as an “historic occasion”. “It symbolises a message of peace to Iraq and the entire area,” the international ministry stated.

The Iraqi president, Barham Salih, formally invited Pope Francis to go to Iraq in July 2019, hoping it will assist the nation heal after years of strife.

Just a few hundred thousand Christians are left in Iraq following sectarian warfare after the 2003 US-led invasion and Islamic State’s sweep via a 3rd of the nation in 2014.

Francis had hoped to make a visit this yr however his plans had been scuppered first by safety considerations after which by coronavirus.

In 2000, the late Pope John Paul II wished to go to the traditional Iraqi metropolis of Ur, historically held to be the birthplace of Abraham, the daddy of all three of the nice monotheistic religions – Christianity, Islam and Judaism. It was to have been the primary leg of a three-step pilgrimage to Iraq, Egypt and Israel.

However negotiations with the federal government of the then Iraqi chief, Saddam Hussein, broke down and he was unable to go.

Reuters and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

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