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.
On March 7, Pope Francis concluded a three-day whirlwind tour of Iraq that took him to six cities, saw him deliver seven speeches, and marked several historic firsts.
Abdullah Kurdi, the father of the young refugee boy who death five years ago woke the world up to the reality of the migration crisis, has described his recent meeting with Pope Francis as the best birthday present that he’s ever received.
From his experience in Iraq in 2018, Monsignor Kieran Harrington doesn’t look at one stop, or moment, from Pope Francis’ trip to Iraq as most significant. Rather, it’s the fact that the Holy Father was there in the first place.
March 8 marks the end of Pope Francis’ emblematic trip to Iraq — it’s been filled with many firsts for the only pontiff to visit the Land of Abraham. There were places to go, people to meet, stories to tell and, of course, lessons on human fraternity to learn. Here’s a look at some of the highlights.
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.
Although the impact of papal trips is often hard to assess in the immediate aftermath, such cautions mean little to the leader of Iraq’s local Catholic church, who quickly proclaimed Pope Francis’s March 5-8 visit to his nation a “miracle” on Sunday.
Having witnessed or even experienced persecution for their faith, the Christians of Iraq must be careful not to harbor thoughts of revenge, Pope Francis told them.
Every papal trip is, in a sense, an exercise in storytelling. A pope chooses to travel to a given destination in part because he believes it has a story the world needs to hear, and, for a few days, he lends it his spotlight, so the global media pay attention.