Twenty years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq started and six years after Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State, whose attacks started in 2014, the country’s religious minorities are still trying to surmount challenges.
Pope Francis offered prayers Wednesday for the victims of violent political protests in Iraq that have left more than 20 people dead, saying dialogue and fraternity are the only way to resolve its current difficulties.
“I remember the destroyed Churches … May the Lord help everyone to rebuild this city!” The Holy Father said.
Advocates say action is needed to stop the hemorrhaging of Christians from their biblical homelands, particularly Lebanon and Iraq, as safety, poor governance and economic crises imperil their future.
Pope Francis held a private audience with Nadia Murad, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and survivor of the Islamic State-led genocide in Iraq, Aug. 26 at the Vatican.
Pope Francis offered his prayers and condolences after a fire at in a COVID-19 hospital ward in Iraq left at least 64 people dead.
Perhaps the most authoritative Catholic voice in Iraq has argued that the survival of Christianity in the country depends on the creation of a secular state where all forms of sectarianism are eradicated, allowing the nation to become an example of respectful coexistence for the Middle East.
Pope Francis has sent a letter to Iraqi Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako voicing thanks for his visit to Iraq last month and praising the local church for its charitable activities and its role in working to rebuild the country.
One month after Pope Francis’s historic visit to Iraq, one of the country’s top Catholic prelates has outlined his vision for the country going forward, making the bold suggestion of enforcing a stricter separation between religion and the state.
Pope Francis’s recent trip to Iraq will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on the country in ways that only time will tell. However, in the immediate aftermath, significant developments are already being seen.