Pope Francis will make a « historic » trip to Iraq in March where he will visit Baghdad, Erbil as well as the northern cities of Mosul and Qaraqosh, which had been under the control of the Islamic State (IS) group, the Vatican announced on Monday.
« Pope Francis, accepting the invitation of the Republic of Iraq and of the local Catholic Church, will make an Apostolic Journey to the aforementioned Country on 5-8 March 2021, » the pope’s press office said.
« He will visit Baghdad, the plain of Ur, linked to the memory of Abraham, the city of Erbil, as well as Mosul and Qaraqosh in the plain of Nineveh. »
The pope’s visit comes amid political turmoil and a rise in tensions in Iraq, which has become the field for a proxy confrontation between the United States and Iran.
The Iraqi government called the trip a « historic event » meant as a message of support for the entire country.
« The Pope’s visit to Iraq, Mesopotamia, the land of Messengers and Prophets, and the homeland of Ur and Prophet Abraham represents a historic event and is considered support for all Iraqis, » the Iraqi foreign ministry said in a statement.
« It also represents a message of peace to Iraq and the entire region, affirms the unity of the humanitarian position in confronting extremism and conflicts, and promotes diversity, tolerance and coexistence. »