Pope Francis Hails Iraq as "Cradle of Civilizations" in First Historic Visit

Published March 5th, 2021 - 01:59 GMT
Pope Francis said he was "coming as a pilgrim, as a penitent pilgrim, to implore from the Lord forgiveness and reconciliation after years of war and terrorism".
AFP
Highlights
Pope Francis said he was "coming as a pilgrim, as a penitent pilgrim, to implore from the Lord forgiveness and reconciliation after years of war and terrorism".

Pope Francis has arrived in Iraq for the first ever papal visit there, and his first international trip since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

About 10,000 Iraqi Security Forces personnel are being deployed to protect the Pope, while round-the-clock curfews are also being imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi welcomed Francis at Baghdad International Airport. He was greeted with fanfare as he stepped onto the red carpet, and then by a choir as he entered the airport.

Crowds of people waved Iraqi and Vatican flags as he passed on his way to sit and speak with the prime minister in a reception area of the airport. The conversation was not broadcast. As Francis left the airport, he passed people dancing and singing, few of whom were wearing masks.

Iraqi President Barham Saleh welcomed the Pope in an elevated speech about Iraq's diversity in faiths and the pain its peoples from different ethnicities have suffered for decades and called for a structured way to bring back stability to the region thus facilitating the return of those sons and daughters who had to migrate to different parts of the world as a result of war and persecution by terrorist groups. 

On his part, Pope Francis hailed Iraq as a cradle of civilizations and asked God to heal the wounds of its people. 

 


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