Pope Francis is set to arrive in Iraq, on Friday. He is on a five day tour to the country despite the pandemic and a country filled with unrest due to several factors. He will visit six cities and visit holy sites mentioned in the Bible. He will address small gatherings and meet a handful of people.
The Pope will visit the Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad, which was attacked by terrorists from the ISIS ten years ago, killing and wounding many Christians. He will also visit sites in Mosul, Qarakosh and Erbil.
Although the Christian minority will not be able to get a glimpse of their religious head, they are very happy to know that he is visiting and will watch the first visit by a pontiff to their nation on television. There will a complete curfew for the duration of his trip.
The strict curfew has been imposed as this could be a dangerous trip for the Pope. Many expected the trip to be canceled, although it had been announced last December. However, the Pope will visit and there are stringent security arrangements been made as this article goes to print.
Two major issues are present before the papal visit: the coronavirus pandemic and the strife and attacks in the war ravaged nation. Sufficient measures have been taken to handle both as the Christian minority looks forward to his visit as a healing and a way to underscore their dwindling population in an ancient land.
The cradle of civilization, Iraq has borne strife from decades and has taken it in its stride despite foreign and local insurgents trying to destroy it from within and without. As the Tigris and Euphrates flow through this ancient land called Mesopotamia, it is hoped that the Pope’s visit would bring peace and love as the Pope is revered by both Muslims and Christians.
As a political scientist Mumen Tariq said, “People, both Christians and Muslims, look at the Pope as a man of peace. This visit gives Iraq a new role on the world stage.”