Pope Says He’s Not Afraid of Being Called ‘Heretic’ for Outreach to Islam

In his latest in-flight news conference, Pope Francis said Monday he’s not afraid to be called a ‘heretic’ for engaging in dialogue with Muslims; that he felt “imprisoned” during COVID-19 lockdowns; he was “shocked” by the destruction he witnessed in the Iraqi city of Mosul March 7; and, on international Women’s Day, expressed regret over the exploitation of women, including the practice of genital mutilation.

Historic Trip to Iraq Comes as Many Question Safety of Pope

Pope Francis traveled to Iraq on a first-ever pontiff visit to the birthplace of the biblical figure of Abraham. The Pope’s mission during the three day visit is three-fold: encouraging the Christian community, long- time victim of persecution and extremism; pursuing dialogue with Shia Islam; and encountering the Iraqi nation as a whole.

Iraq: Full of Historic Sites Important to Understanding Christianity

Pope Francis hopes to embark on the first-ever papal visit to the biblical land of Iraq in early March in a spiritual pilgrimage of sorts to the place known in Arabic as the “land of the two rivers” — the mighty Tigris and Euphrates — and once renowned as Mesopotamia, the “cradle of civilization.”