Pope to visit Iraq in March, first foreign trip since pandemic

By: AFP      Published: 05:08 PM, 7 Dec, 2020
Pope to visit Iraq in March, first foreign trip since pandemic

Pope Francis will visit Iraq in March, the Vatican said Monday, in his first trip abroad since the coronavirus pandemic gripped Italy, grounding the pontiff, early this year.

"He will visit Baghdad, the plain of Ur... the city of Erbil, as well as Mosul and Qaraqosh in the plain of Nineveh," spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement about the trip, which will take place from March 5 to 8, 2021.

Iraq welcomes Pope 2021 visit as 'message of peace'

Pope Francis's visit to Iraq in March will be a "historic event", the government in Baghdad said after the Vatican announced Monday the pontiff's first trip since the coronavirus pandemic.

"It symbolises a message of peace to Iraq and the whole region," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

President Barham Saleh officially invited Pope Francis to visit Iraq in July 2019, hoping it would help the country "heal" after years of strife.

A few hundred thousand Christians are left in Iraq following sectarian warfare after the 2003 US-led invasion and the Islamic State group's sweep through a third of the country in 2014.