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    President Joe Biden said Pope Francis’ visit to Iraq “is a symbol of hope” in a Monday White House statement. “To see Pope Francis visit ancient religious sites, including the biblical birthplace of Abraham, spend time with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf, and offer prayers in Mosul — a city that only a few years ago endured the depravity and intolerance of a group like ISIS — is a symbol of hope for the entire world,” Biden said in the statement. Francis’s visit to the Middle Eastern country started Friday and ended Monday, according to Vatican News. Francis’ trip was his first since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to a December Vatican News report. (RELATED: Pope Francis Asks Biden To Respect The ‘Rights And Dignity Of Every Person’, Including Those Who ‘Have No Voice) Francis is the first pope to travel to Iraq since former Pope Saint John Paul...
    Erbil, Iraq (CNN)When Pope Francis greeted adoring crowds at an Erbil stadium for the final leg of his Iraq tour on Sunday, he showed up in an open-air vehicle. He did the same when he toured Mosul earlier, waving at a handful of onlookers against the backdrop of buildings destroyed during the war against ISIS. The images that flashed on TV screens seemed a far cry from the Iraq of recent decades. Western heads of state and VIPs typically show up unannounced, with their itineraries a closely guarded secret. This has been standard practice in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion. Francis flew back to Rome Monday and this trip has struck an entirely different note. The visit was announced nearly three months in advance. As violence intensified and coronavirus cases increased in Iraq, so too did the Pope's resolve to carry on with the tour.It was the 84-year-old pontiff's...
    This Monday, the Pope returned to Rome after a historic visit to Iraq. On the plane that brought him back to Italy, he spoke to the press. Pope Francis said he felt much more tired during this trip to Iraq than during his previous trips abroad. “I confess to you that during this trip, I got tired much more than during the others”, he said, stressing that being 84 years old has “a consequence”. “I don’t know if the trips will slow down,” commented the Argentine pope, who appeared to have a lot more trouble than usual walking during his stops in the four corners of Iraq, where he arrived on Friday. The trip was punctuated with morning awakenings and numerous domestic flights. In the past two months, François had suffered again from recurring sciatica which had forced him to cancel several engagements in Rome, but he had...
    ROME — The Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar Warda, said Sunday evening that Pope Francis’s visit to Iraq and the message he offered were a great gift to the entire nation. “We thank you for your courage in coming to this troubled land of ours, a land so filled with violence, this place of endless disputes, displacement, and suffering among the people and for having done so in this time of pandemic and global crisis,” Archbishop Warda told the pope following the closing Mass of his visit. “This makes Christ’s words — ‘Be not afraid’ — come alive for us.” “We thank you for your prayers for the persecuted and marginalized, here in Iraq and throughout the world,” the archbishop said in Erbil’s Hariri stadium where the Mass was celebrated. “We know that you have continued to pray for us in all our times of darkness,” he continued. “We know...
    Pope Francis today finished the first-ever papal trip to Iraq, which went off without a hitch despite security worries and a second wave of coronavirus cases in the country. The 84-year-old pontiff covered more than 900 miles inside the country, bringing encouragement to its diminished Christian population and reaching out to the Shiite Muslim majority through a meeting with top cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Pope Francis boards the papal plane before departing Baghdad International Airport to return to the Vatican on Monday 
    Five Iraqi helicopters escorted the first ruler in history to visit Iraq. LPope Francis arrived Sunday in Mosul, a large city in northern Iraq, where the jihadist Islamic State (IS) group sowed death and terror from 2014 to 2017, . journalists noted. Five Iraqi helicopters escorted the first ruler in history to visit Iraq. He then arrived in an armored car in the rubble of a thousand-year-old church in the heart of Mosul where he will lead a prayer for “the victims of war”. Persecuted Christians The departure of Christians from the Middle East is “an incalculable damage,” Pope Francis said on Sunday amid the rubble of the war against the jihadists in Mosul, in northern Iraq. The occupation of a third of the country by the Islamic State (IS) group from 2014 to 2017 was the latest episode in a series of...
    The New York Times The relevance of the pope’s next visit to Iraq, amid the pandemic, is questioned VATICAN CITY – During the pandemic, Pope Francis has canceled his trips because, he said, “in conscience I cannot provoke meetings,” but added that the only thing that would prevent him from being the first pope to visit war-torn Iraq would be a new increase in infections. That’s just what happened. Rising coronavirus cases have prompted Iraqi authorities to impose emergency closures. Shiite authorities suspended religious pilgrimages. On Sunday, the Vatican ambassador contracted the virus and was isolated. As if that were not enough, suicide bombings, missile attacks and geopolitical tensions have also increased. However, to the bewilderment of many, Francisco intends to go anyway. After more than a year locked behind the Vatican walls, he will fly to Baghdad on Friday in one of the most virulent times of the entire...
    NAJAF, Iraq — Pope Francis met with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, one of the most senior clerics in Shiite Islam, in Iraq’s holy city of Najaf on Saturday to deliver a message of peaceful coexistence, urging Muslims to embrace Iraq’s long-beleaguered Christian minority.  The historic meeting in al-Sistani’s humble home was months in the making, with every detail painstakingly discussed and negotiated between the ayatollah’s office and the Vatican.  When the time came, the 84-year-old pontiff’s convoy, led by a bullet-proof vehicle, pull up along Najaf’s narrow and column-lined Rasool Street, which culminates at the golden-domed Imam Ali Shrine, one of the most revered sites in the world for Shiites. He then walked the few yards to al-Sistani’s modest home, which the cleric has rented for decades.  A group of Iraqis wearing traditional clothes welcomed him outside. As a masked Francis entered the doorway, a few white doves were released...
    More On: iraq Songs and swords greet Pope Francis on Iraq arrival Bipartisan bill introduced to repeal Iraq War authorization after Biden bombed Syria 10 rockets strike Iraqi base hosting US troops In oil-rich Iraq, a few women buck norms, take rig site jobs NAJAF, Iraq — Pope Francis met with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, one of the most senior clerics in Shiite Islam, in Iraq’s holy city of Najaf on Saturday to deliver a message of peaceful coexistence, urging Muslims to embrace Iraq’s long-beleaguered Christian minority.  The historic meeting in al-Sistani’s humble home was months in the making, with every detail painstakingly discussed and negotiated between the ayatollah’s office and the Vatican.  When the time came, the 84-year-old pontiff’s convoy, led by a bullet-proof vehicle, pull up along Najaf’s narrow and column-lined Rasool Street, which culminates at the golden-domed Imam Ali Shrine, one of the most revered sites in...
    The scenes are seared in the memory of the Rev. Ammar Altony Yako: A church that for decades has been the pride of the town of Qaraqosh, a center for Christian life in Iraq, stood badly scarred. Yako saw it in 2016 when Qaraqosh was liberated from more than two years of Islamic State group rule. Scrawled on a wall was the proclamation, the “Islamic State will remain.” Strewn amid the rubble in a courtyard were bullet-riddled mannequins and other telltale signs of a militants’ makeshift firing range for target practice. On Sunday, a new scene will play out for the world to watch at the Church of the Immaculate Conception and new memories will be created. Where the extremists once damaged, Pope Francis will now pray. “I never could have imagined that his holiness, the pope, would visit this church, not even in my dreams,” said Yako,...
    BAGHDAD (AP) — Pope Francis opened the first-ever papal visit to Iraq on Friday with a plea for the country to protect its centuries-old diversity, urging Muslims to embrace their Christian neighbors as a precious resource and asking the embattled Christian community — “though small like a mustard seed” — to persevere. Francis brushed aside the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns to resume his globe-trotting papacy after a yearlong hiatus spent under COVID-19 lockdown in Vatican City. His primary aim over the weekend is to encourage Iraq’s dwindling Christian population, which was violently persecuted by the Islamic State group and still faces discrimination by the Muslim majority, to stay and help rebuild the country devastated by wars and strife. “Only if we learn to look beyond our differences and see each other as members of the same human family,” Francis told Iraqi authorities in his welcoming address, “will we be...
    A militant group implicated in a recent rocket attack on U.S. forces in Iraq has declared a ceasefire during Pope Francis’s visit, a grudging suspension of hostilities that hints at the political importance of the papal tour. "We stop all forms military action during the Pope's visit,” Saraya Awliya al Dam, Arabic for the Guardians of Blood, announced prior to the pontiff’s arrival. The pledge offers a measure of reassurance as the pope visits territory roiled by threats from Iranian-backed militias; the Guardians claimed responsibility for last month’s rocket attack on Erbil, which President Biden countered by bombing a base in Syria used by Iranian forces and their proxies. “They would not escalate during a visit like this because it would backfire immensely,” said New Lines Institute senior analyst Rasha al Aqeedi, an Iraqi national who hails originally from Mosul. “Any kind of violence during the pope's...
    Pope Francis will travel to Iraq as a « pilgrim of peace » to ask « forgiveness and reconciliation after years of war and terrorism » and in « search of brotherhood » with other religions during his historic visit, in which he will visit emblematic places of the « cradle of the Civilization ». « I come as a repentant pilgrim to implore the Lord for forgiveness and reconciliation after years of war and terrorism, to ask God for the comfort of hearts and the healing of wounds, » says the pontiff in a video message addressed to the Iraqi people in the eve of the start of the visit. The Pope explains that he will arrive at « the cradle of Civilization » as « a pilgrim of peace in search of brotherhood, animated by the desire to pray together and walk together, even with brothers and sisters of other religious traditions, in the sign of his Father Abraham, who gathers...
    Pope Francis called for peace toward Christians in the first-ever papal visit to the majority-Muslim country of Iraq on Friday. Francis was greeted with cheers from the crowds that gathered in Baghdad to see the pontiff, who was transported in a bulletproof BMWi750 surrounded by fleets of police, the Associated Press reported. His primary goal during the visit is to encourage the country's diminishing number of Christians to stay and help rebuild the country devastated by wars and strife. "Only if we learn to look beyond our differences and see each other as members of the same human family will we be able to begin an effective process of rebuilding and leave to future generations a better, more just, and more humane world," the pope said in a welcoming address to Iraqi authorities. POPE FRANCIS SHARES MLK DAY MESSAGE OF PEACE AFTER CAPITOL RIOT Demographic estimates show that there are...
    BAGHDAD (AP) — Pope Francis arrived in Iraq on Friday to urge the country’s dwindling number of Christians to stay put and help rebuild the country after years of war and persecution, brushing aside the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns to make his first-ever papal visit. The pope, who wore a facemask during the flight, kept it on as he descended the stairs to the tarmac and was greeted by two masked children in traditional dress. But health measures appeared lax inside the airport despite the country’s worsening coronavirus outbreak. Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said Iraqis were eager to welcome Francis’ “message of peace and tolerance” and described the visit as a historic meeting between the “minaret and the bells.” Among the highlights of the three-day visit is Francis’ private meeting Saturday with the country’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a revered figure in Iraq and beyond....
    Pope Francis landed Friday in Iraq to start his long-anticipated visit to the country on a mission to encourage the minority Christian population, ignoring health and security concerns as the coronavirus pandemic continues. The visit will be the first visit by a pope to the war-torn region. The three-day trip will culminate in a private meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the country’s top Shiite cleric and a revered figure in the Islamic world. Pope Francis is flanked by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi upon his arrival at Baghdad's international airport, Iraq, Friday, March 5, 2021. Pope Francis heads to Iraq on Friday to urge the country's dwindling number of Christians to stay put and help rebuild the country after years of war and persecution, brushing aside the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini) Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi greeted the pope as...
    BAGHDAD -- Pope Francis arrived in Iraq on Friday to urge the country's dwindling number of Christians to stay put and help rebuild the country after years of war and persecution, brushing aside the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns to make his first-ever papal visit.The pope, who wore a facemask during the flight, kept it on as he descended the stairs to the tarmac and was greeted by two masked children in traditional dress. But health measures appeared lax inside the airport despite the country's worsening coronavirus outbreak.Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said Iraqis were eager to welcome Francis' "message of peace and tolerance" and described the visit as a historic meeting between the "minaret and the bells." Among the highlights of the three-day visit is Francis' private meeting Saturday with the country's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a revered figure in Iraq and beyond.Francis' plane touched down...
    Baghdad, Iraq (CNN)Pope Francis has landed in Iraq for a historic tour of the war-ravaged nation, where he is expected to meet with members of the country's dwindling Christian community and draw attention to their plight. The trip, which marks the first-ever papal visit to Iraq, will also include meetings with the country's top political and religious officials. On Friday, the pontiff will hold meetings with Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and President Barham Salih. He will later meet with clerics and other officials at two Baghdad churches, including one that was the site of a bloody 2010 massacre. Pope Francis waves as he boards a plane for Iraq on March 5, 2021 at Rome's Fiumicino airport.Francis was widely expected to cancel the visit after a surge in coronavirus cases gripped Iraq in recent weeks, and a spate of new rocket attacks deepened security fears. But the Pope insisted that...
    BAGHDAD (AP) — Pope Francis arrives in Iraq, launching first papal visit to rally dwindling Christian community after decades of war. Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.
    . – created on 5.03.2021 at 1:53 p.m. – updated on 5.03.2021 at 1:53 p.m. – The editorial staff Grzegorz Galazka / Mondadori Portf / SIPA Pope Francis is expected in Iraq this Friday for a historic three-day visit. It is the first time that the country has welcomed a pope.
    BAGHDAD — Pope Francis heads to Iraq on Friday to urge the country’s dwindling number of Christians to stay put and help rebuild the country after years of war and persecution, brushing aside the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns to make his first-ever papal visit. Iraqis were keen to welcome him and the global attention his visit will bring, with banners and posters hanging high in central Baghdad, and billboards depicting Francis with the slogan "We are all Brothers" decorating the main thoroughfare. In central Tahrir square, a mock tree was erected emblazoned with the Vatican emblem, while Iraqi and Vatican flags lined empty streets. POPE FRANCIS’ PLANNED IRAQ TRIP SPARKS SECURITY, HEALTH FEARS  Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said Iraqis were eager to welcome Francis’ "message of peace and tolerance" and described the visit as a historic meeting between the "minaret and the bells." Among the highlights of the...
    By Nicole Winfield and Samya Kullab | Associated Press BAGHDAD — Pope Francis heads to Iraq on Friday to urge the country’s dwindling number of Christians to stay put and help rebuild the country after years of war and persecution, brushing aside the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns to make his first-ever papal visit. Iraqis were keen to welcome him and the global attention his visit will bring, with banners and posters hanging high in central Baghdad, and billboards depicting Francis with the slogan “We are all Brothers” decorating the main thoroughfare. In central Tahrir square, a mock tree was erected emblazoned with the Vatican emblem, while Iraqi and Vatican flags lined empty streets. Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said Iraqis were eager to welcome Francis’ “message of peace and tolerance” and described the visit as a historic meeting between the “minaret and the bells.” Among the highlights of the...
    ROME (Reuters) - Pope Francis left Rome on Friday to start a four-day trip to Iraq, his most risky foreign trip since his election in 2012 and the first visit by a pontiff to the country. An Alitalia airplane carrying the pope, his entourage, a security detail, and about 75 journalists, left Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport for the 4-1/2-hour flight to the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Iraq is deploying thousands of additional security personnel to protect Francis during the visit, which comes after a spate of rocket and suicide bomb attacks raised fears for the Catholic leader's safety. On Wednesday morning, 10 rockets landed on an airbase that hosts U.S., coalition and Iraqi forces. Hours after that attack, the pope reaffirmed he would be going to Iraq. The 84-year-old will visit four cities, including the former Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, where churches and other buildings still bear the scars...
    Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to Iraq will happen amid a pandemic and recent rocket attacks targeting air bases in the country, making it an especially dangerous trip. The long-awaited historic visit has been eagerly anticipated by the country’s dwindling Christian population, the future of which could be greatly impacted by the Pope’s activities in the country.  Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein holds a press conference at the Babylon Hotel in the capital Baghdad, on March 4, 2021. (Photo by SABAH ARAR/AFP via Getty Images) The March 5-8 visit will make Francis the first Catholic pontiff to visit Iraq after John Paul II was unable to visit in 2000 when negotiations with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein broke down. Christian leaders and advocates in Iraq are hoping Francis will bring words of hope to Christians in the country and that the visit will turn the world’s attention to the plight they face...
    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.  Security is a concern for the March 5-8 visit, given the continued presence of rogue Shiite militias and fresh rocket attacks. Francis, who relishes plunging into crowds and zipping around in his popemobile, is expected to travel in an armored car with a sizeable security detail. The Vatican hopes the measures will have the dual effect of protecting the pope while discouraging contagion-inducing crowds.  Francis’ visit is the culmination of two decades of efforts to bring a pope to the birthplace of Abraham, the prophet central to Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths, after St. John Paul II was prevented from going in 1999.  "We can't disappoint this people a second time," Francis said...
    A worker hangs a poster welcoming Pope Francis outside the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Baghdad – SABAH ARAR /AFP The Pope has said he will go ahead with a historic visit to Iraq this week as “the people cannot be let down for a second time”, despite concerns over a spate of recent terrorist attacks and the potential spread of coronavirus.  Pope Francis said on Wednesday that he was determined to make the trip since a previous visit by his predecessor John Paul II was cancelled for security reasons in 2000. “The day after tomorrow, God willing, I will go to Iraq for a three-day pilgrimage,” he announced in his weekly address at the Vatican. “For a long time I have wanted to meet these people who have suffered so much”. The 84-year-old Pontiff’s visit – the first by a Pope to Iraq – is seen as hugely significant by...
    Pope Francis has insisted that his historic trip to Iraq which is due to take place this week will go ahead despite an attack on US forces in the country today.  The 84-year-old pontiff said he cannot disappoint people 'who have suffered so much' by calling off the visit, the first ever by a pope to Iraq, at the last minute. Instead, he asked people to pray for him and the journey 'so that it may take place in the best possible way and bear the hoped-for fruits'.  Pope Francis has insisted that his visit to Iraq, which is due to take place at the end of the week, will go ahead as planned despite a rocket attack on US forces in the country today Pope Francis is due to land in Iraq on Friday for a three-day visit designed to encourage the country's Christian faithful after years of...
    By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press VATICAN CITY (AP) — 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 group's insurgency while seeking to boost ties with the Shiite Muslim world. Security is a concern for the March 5-8 visit, given the continued presence of rogue Shiite militias. Francis, who relishes plunging into crowds and zipping around in his popemobile, is expected to travel in an armored car with a sizeable security detail. The Vatican hopes the measures will have the dual effect of protecting the pope while discouraging contagion-inducing crowds. Francis’ visit is the culmination of two decades of efforts to bring a pope to the birthplace of Abraham, the prophet central to Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths. The trip will give Francis — and the...
    VATICAN CITY (AP) — 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 group’s insurgency while seeking to boost ties with the Shiite Muslim world. Security is a concern for the March 5-8 visit, given the continued presence of rogue Shiite militias. Francis, who relishes plunging into crowds and zipping around in his popemobile, is expected to travel in an armored car with a sizeable security detail. The Vatican hopes the measures will have the dual effect of protecting the pope while discouraging contagion-inducing crowds. Francis’ visit is the culmination of two decades of efforts to bring a pope to the birthplace of Abraham, the prophet central to Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths. The trip will give Francis — and the world —...
    “We are delighted with the arrival of Pope Francis but it comes at a rather complicated time,” admits bluntly one of the officials in charge of the organization within the Iraqi presidency. This “rather complicated moment” began a few weeks ago with a new peak in coronavirus infections -4,000 daily cases against a few hundred previously. And, among the new patients, figure … the Vatican ambassador to Baghdad Mitja Leskovar. This increase raises fears that Masses will become huge hotbeds of contamination. The Pope, like the dozens of journalists and church officials on his plane, has been vaccinated. But the first doses of vaccines – only 50,000 – did not arrive in Iraq until Tuesday. Some doctors immediately received the first dose of the vaccine. While physical distancing, fortnights and wearing masks have been options Iraqis have despised for months, the organizers of the papal visit have sharply limited...
    By Charlotte Bruneau MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) - In Mosul, adjacent to the Biblical city of Nineveh, four churches representing different denominations occupy a small square surrounded by low-rise houses, testament to the role Iraq's once flourishing Christian community played. Today, all four churches are either damaged or destroyed after Islamic State militants occupied the city from 2014-2017, desecrated many of the buildings and used them to run its administration, including as a jail and a court. Air strikes as Iraqi forces tried to dislodge the extremist group in fierce fighting did the rest. Those walls still standing are scarred with bullet and shrapnel holes. "It used to be a bit like the Jerusalem of the Nineveh plains," said Mosul and Akra's Chaldean Archbishop Najeeb Michaeel of "Church Square", the name given to the site that Pope Francis will visit on March 7 during his historic trip to Iraq. Michaeel fondly...
    By Mohammed Aty BAGHADAD (Reuters) - Pope Francis is due to hold an inter-religious prayer service at the ancient Mesopotamian site of Ur when he visits Iraq next week - an event local archeologists hope will draw renewed attention to the place revered as the birthplace of Abraham. Popular with Western visitors in the 1970s and 1980s, Ur is scarcely visited today after decades of war and political instability shattered Iraq's international tourism industry. The coronavirus crisis now also keeps local tourists away. Located about 300 km (200 miles) south of the capital Baghdad, the site comprises a pyramid-style Ziggurat and an adjacent residential complex as well as temples and palaces. It was excavated about 100 years ago by Leonard Woolley, a Briton who recovered treasures rivalling those found in Tutankhamen's tomb in Egypt. But little work has since been done on one of the world's oldest cities, where urban...
    ROME — Pope Francis’ plans to travel to Iraq on March 5 are “unaffected” by recent violence in Baghdad and Erbil, the Vatican and Iraq’s Foreign Ministry concur. Last Monday, an Iraqi armed group called Guardian of Blood Brigades fired off more than a dozen rockets at the airport and civilian areas of Erbil, killing a U.S. military contractor and wounding six others, including a U.S. service member. On January 21, twin suicide bombings perpetrated by Islamic State terrorists in Baghdad claimed 32 lives, injuring at least 100 more. In December, Iran-linked gang members and militia fighters carried out bombing raids on liquor stories in Baghdad, mostly owned by Christians and Yazidis. Erbil and Baghdad are both on the pope’s itinerary for his March 5-8 apostolic visit to the country, but in spite of recent violence, both the Vatican and the Iraqi government said this week the trip will proceed...
    ROME (AP) — Pope Francis will meet with Iraq’s top Shiite Muslim cleric, Ali al-Sistani, during a trip next month that will also include a pilgrimage to ancient Christian communities that were emptied and devastated in battles with the Islamic State group. The Vatican on Monday released the itinerary of Francis’ March 5-8 visit to Iraq, his first foreign trip since being grounded for 16 months due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 84-year-old pontiff, who has been vaccinated against COVID-19, apparently intends to go ahead with the trip despite the pandemic and lingering security concerns. Francis’ main reason for making the first-ever papal trip to Iraq is to encourage the country’s Christians, who faced decades of discrimination by Iraq’s Muslims before being persecuted by the Islamic State group starting in 2014. Francis had intended to visit Iraq that year, as did St. John Paul II in 2000, but both had...
    U.S. vaccinations at 200K a day run far short of ‘warp speed’ AstraZeneca granted U.K. approval for its Covid-19 vaccine Iran to Use Money From Iraq Gas Sale to Buy Virus Vaccine (Bloomberg) -- Iran will use money from energy exports to Iraq to buy coronavirus vaccine from Europe, Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian said. © Bloomberg A glass medical vaccine vial in dry ice vapor in an arranged photograph in Wurzburg, Germany, on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. Freezers required to store Covid-19 vaccines are in place at health systems that are preparing to administer the initial doses once the two leading candidates for shots receive a green light from regulators, U.S. health officials said Wednesday. He made the statement following a visit to Baghdad after Iran reduced natural gas supplies to Iraq over unpaid bills, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported. Iraq cleared a “considerable amount” of its...
    Iraqi Archbishop Bashar Warda has underscored the “immense” historic importance of Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to Iraq, as Christians’ survival in the country hangs in the balance. The pope’s journey to Iraq “is already filling our communities with immense excitement and pride,” said Warda, the archbishop of Erbil, in a December 12 interview with the National Catholic Register. This visit to the Christians of Iraq “will be a massive lift for a people who have been marginalized and pushed to the very edge of their own existence after 2,000 years,” the archbishop said. “The world cannot afford for Christianity to disappear from Iraq and the Middle East,” Warda added. “We have been here for 2,000 years and we need help. His Holiness’ visit will refocus the media’s attention on us and other ancient minorities like the Yazidis who have suffered greatly, and shed light on our plight to survive into...
    Pope Francis will make a historic visit to Iraq in March, breaking a 15 month hiatus from travel to visit the beleaguered country, the Vatican reported Monday.  The trip to Iraq will include visits to the capital, Baghdad, along with “the plan of Ur, linked to the memory of Abraham, the city of Ernie, as well as Mosul and Qaraqosh in the plan of Nineveh,” the Holy See’s press office announced. BARTELLA, IRAQ – OCTOBER 23: A church that was partially destoyed by Islamic State is pictured during the offensive to recapture the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants, on October 23, 2016 in Bartella, Iraq. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images) Francis, like his predecessor Pope St. John Paul II, had expressed a desire to visit Iraq, where the Christian population has faced persecution and displacement. The status of the pandemic and how it has evolved will also be...
    VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis will make a pilgrimage to Iraq in March, pandemic conditions permitting, the Vatican said Monday, in announcing what would be the pontiff's first trip abroad in more than a year. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Francis will make the March 5-8 visit, with stops in Baghdad, and the “plains of Ur, linked to the memory of Abraham,” the Biblical patriarch who is revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims, as well as to the cities of Irbil, Mosul and Qaraqosh. Bruni said the trip’s schedule will be announced later and will take into consideration “the evolution of the worldwide health emergency″ that is the COVID-19 pandemic. Pope Francis delivers his blessing as he recites the Angelus noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St.Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini) It would be the first trip abroad...
    VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis will make a pilgrimage to Iraq in March, pandemic conditions permitting, the Vatican said Monday, in announcing what would be the pontiff's first trip aboard in more than a year. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni on Monday said Francis will make the March 5-8 visit, with stops in Baghdad, and the “plains of Ur, linked to the memory of Abraham,” the Biblical patriarch, as well as to the cities of Irbil, Mosul and Qaraqosh. Bruni said the trip’s schedule will be announced later and will take into consideration “the evolution of the worldwide health emergency″ that is the COVID-19 pandemic. It would be the first trip abroad for Francis since November 2019, when he visited Thailand and Japan. Francis turns 84 on Dec. 17. The Vatican said Francis had accepted invitations from the Iraqi government from the local Catholic church. Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All...
    VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis will make a pilgrimage to Iraq in March, pandemic conditions permitting, the Vatican said Monday, in announcing what would be the pontiff’s first trip aboard in more than a year. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni on Monday said Francis will make the March 5-8 visit, with stops in Baghdad, and the “plains of Ur, linked to the memory of Abraham,” the Biblical patriarch who is revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims, as well as to the cities of Irbil, Mosul and Qaraqosh. Bruni said the trip’s schedule will be announced later and will take into consideration “the evolution of the worldwide health emergency″ that is the COVID-19 pandemic. It would be the first trip abroad for Francis since November 2019, when he visited Thailand and Japan. Francis turns 84 on Dec. 17. The Vatican said Francis had accepted invitations from the Iraqi government from the...
    VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis will make a pilgrimage to Iraq in March, pandemic conditions permitting, the Vatican said Monday, in announcing what would be the pontiff's first trip aboard in more than a year. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni on Monday said Francis will make the March 5-8 visit, with stops in Baghdad, and the “plains of Ur, linked to the memory of Abraham,” the Biblical patriarch, as well as to the cities of Irbil, Mosul and Qaraqosh. Bruni said the trip’s schedule will be announced later and will take into consideration “the evolution of the worldwide health emergency″ that is the COVID-19 pandemic. It would be the first trip abroad for Francis since November 2019, when he visited Thailand and Japan. Francis turns 84 on Dec. 17. The Vatican said Francis had accepted invitations from the Iraqi government from the local Catholic church. Copyright 2020 The...
    By Philip Pullella VATICAN CITY (Reuters) -Pope Francis will make the first visit by a pope to Iraq from March 5 to March 8 next year, the Vatican said on Monday, a risky trip that has eluded his predecessors. Spokesman Matteo Bruni said Francis, who turns 84 next week, will visit the capital Baghdad, Ur, a city linked to the Old Testament figure of Abraham, as well as Erbil, Mosul and Qaraqosh in the plain of Nineveh. "The programme of the journey will be made known in due course, and will take into consideration the evolution of the worldwide health emergency," Bruni said in statement. Francis had hoped to make a trip this year but his plans were scuppered first by security concerns and then by the coronavirus pandemic. It will be Francis' first trip in more than a year. All overseas visits that had been planned for this year...
    Rome (CNN)Pope Francis will travel to Iraq in March 2021, the Vatican press office announced on Monday. His trip to the war-torn country could be his first trip outside of Italy since the coronavirus pandemic began. Francis is set to "visit Baghdad, linked to the memory of Abraham, the city of Erbil, as well as Mosul and Qaraqosh in the plain of Nineveh" during his March 5-8 visit, the Vatican communique said. "The programme of the journey will be made known in due course, and will take into consideration the evolution of the worldwide health emergency," it added. Iraq's foreign ministry said the Pope's visit "represents a historic event and support for all Iraqis of all sectors.""It also represents a message of peace to Iraq and to the region as a whole, affirms the unity of the humanitarian position in confronting extremism and conflicts, and promotes diversity and tolerance. And...
    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iraq’s foreign minister arrived Saturday in Tehran for bilateral talks with senior Iranian officials, according to the state-run news agency. IRNA reported that Fuad Hussein planned to meet his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani, in what marked his first visit to the Iranian capital. Zarif visited Baghdad in mid-July, when he met with Hussein and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. It was Zarif’s first visit to Iraq since a U.S. airstrike in January killed a top Iranian general, Qassim Soleimani, outside Baghdad’s international airport. The strike catapulted Iraq to the brink of a U.S.-Iran proxy war that could have destabilized the Middle East. After Zarif’s trip, the Iraqi premier visited Iran in July. The report did not elaborate on the main reasons behind the top Iraqi diplomat’s two-day trip to Tehran. Iran sees neighboring Iraq as a possible route to bypass U.S....
    French President Emmanuel Macron and Iraq’s President Barham Salihat greet each other with an elbow bump – GONZALO FUENTES/ REUTERS President Emmanuel Macron embarked on a high-stakes, headline-grabbing tour in the Middle East this week that has prompted claims France is seeking to re-activate its once-mighty “Arab policy”. Just as France relived the trauma of the al Qaeda-inspired Charlie Hebdo 2015 attack with the opening of the trial of alleged accomplices in Paris, Mr Macron descended on Lebanon’s capital, Beirut. In his second visit in a month following the gigantic explosion that killed 190 and destroyed half the city, he wrested a promise from Lebanon’s discredited political class to conduct lightning reforms or face a funding drought or, worse, targeted sanctions. The 42-year-old then went on to pay a whirlwind, three-hour visit to Iraq, where he urged the battle-scarred country to assert its “sovereignty” in the face of US-Iran tensions...
    French President Emmanuel Macron is set to make his first official visit to Iraq Wednesday, where he hopes to help Baghdad reassert its “sovereignty” despite simmering US-Iran tensions. Coming straight from a two-day trip to Beirut, the capital of crisis-hit Lebanon, Macron will be the most significant leader to visit Iraq since Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi came to power in May. The trip was not publicly announced until Tuesday evening, with officials in Paris and Baghdad keeping a tight lid on arrangements for security reasons. On his final night in Beirut, Macron announced he was heading to Baghdad “to launch an initiative alongside the United Nations to support a process of sovereignty”. “The fight for Iraq’s sovereignty is essential,” Macron had told reporters on Friday, before departing for Lebanon. He said Iraqis, who “suffered so much”, deserved options besides domination by regional powers or Islamist extremism. “There are leaders and...
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. companies plan to unveil investments and agreements with the Iraqi government during Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi's first visit to the White House on Thursday, a senior administration official said. The official, who briefed reporters in a Wednesday call, declined to offer details, indicating he wanted to leave that to U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette. "We are covering a broad range of investments, covering a number of different U.S. companies. One of the principal objectives of this visit is to put them on sound footing," he said. The Iraqi economy has been hammered by lockdowns to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus and sliding oil prices. Protests that began last year led to the resignation of cabinet officials and later to the departure of the former Prime Minister. Earlier on Wednesday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said Iraq expects to sign an agreement with U.S....
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