Pope to go to Iraq in March, first overseas journey since coronavirus pandemic started: Vatican

Pope Francis will make a pilgrimage to Iraq in March, pandemic circumstances allowing, the Vatican stated Monday, in saying what can be the pontiff‘s first journey overseas in additional than a yr.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni stated Francis will make the March 5-Eight go to, with stops in Baghdad, and the “plains of Ur, linked to the reminiscence of Abraham,” the Biblical patriarch who’s revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims, in addition to to the cities of Irbil, Mosul and Qaraqosh.

Bruni stated the journey’s schedule might be introduced later and can take into accounts “the evolution of the worldwide well being emergency″ that’s the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pope Francis delivers his blessing as he recites the Angelus midday prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St.Peter’s Sq., on the Vatican, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020. (AP Picture/Andrew Medichini)

It could be the primary journey overseas for Francis since November 2019, when he visited Thailand and Japan. Francis turns 84 on Dec. 17.

The Vatican stated Francis had accepted invites from the Iraqi authorities from the native Catholic church.

It wasn’t instantly clear if the pope would journey if he had not been vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19 earlier than the journey. The Vatican hasn’t introduced any vaccination plans but. Italy is anticipated to begin vaccinations in January.

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In mid-2019, Francis instructed Catholic help companies that he deliberate on touring to Iraq in 2020.

At the moment, the pope expressed hope that Iraq may construct its future peacefully within the “shared pursuit of the widespread good on the a part of all components of society, together with the spiritual, and never fall again into hostilities sparked by the simmering conflicts of the regional powers.”

Iraq was one of many few nations whose go to eluded globe-trotting Pope John Paul II. Whereas then ailing, he had wished to go to Iraq in 1999, however, in keeping with the Vatican, the pilgrimage by no means occurred as a result of then-dictator Saddam Hussein postponed it.

Qaraqosh is a giant Christian city on the Nineveh plains that had emptied fully when the Islamic State group took over Mosul. An order of nuns runs a nursery college there now for 130 kids, in keeping with the Italian Catholic bishops convention.

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Irbil is basically Kurdish, with some Turkmen and Christian communities.

Mosul is majority Sunni Arab.

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