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.
The meeting between Pope Francis and Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Husaymi al-Sistani can make a difference in America, says Cardinal Wilton Gregory, because it demonstrated “that people from different religious traditions can work together in a spirit of dialogue and mutual respect.”
For many of those who fled Iraq, the mistrust is hard to shake, and despite the joy they felt from watching Pope Francis visit their town, fear is engraved in their hearts.
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.
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.
Pope Francis’ historic visit to the Middle East’s most conflict-riven nation gives hope and comfort to Iraqis of all faiths, and some would even say to Arabs beyond Iraq’s borders.
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.