Iraq: Security for the Papal Trip in Question

Source: FSSPX News

Cathédrale syro-catholique Notre-Dame de l’Intercession de Bagdad

An Italian delegation arrived on January 12, 2021 in the city of Mosul in northern Iraq to assess the level of security in the region, in view of a possible apostolic trip by Pope Francis, normally scheduled from March 5 - 8, but not yet confirmed by the Holy See.

According to an official source from the Nineveh district, the delegation visited the citadel church in the old city of Mosul, then went to the city of Qaraqosh - also known as Bakhdida - which the Pope plans to visit.

Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, patriarch of the Chaldean Rite Catholic Church, is sparing no efforts to ensure the smooth running of a historic trip: “Pope Francis’ travel preparations are going well,” assured the high prelate to the SIR news agency on January 12.

“We are cooperating optimally with the Iraqi authorities. In recent days, I have also had several meetings: one with the delegation of the Shiite leader Moqtada Al-Sadr,” added Cardinal Sako.

The Shiite religious leader is one of the main political actors in the region, and therefore a key figure for anyone wishing to ensure the smooth running of the arrival of Peter’s successor to Iraq.

As a sign of goodwill - and anxious to restore his image in the eyes of the international community - Moqtada Al-Sadr, in early January 2021, set up a commission to examine the complaints of Christians unjustly despoiled of their property during the war against the Islamic State (IS) organization.

Media present were prevented, for obvious confidentiality reasons, from filming the Italian delegation joined by Iraqi army officers.

Pope Francis has planned - after the welcoming ceremony in Baghdad on March 5 - to visit the Syrian-Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation, a symbolic place for the Iraqi Church. It was there, in fact, on October 31, 2010, that a group of terrorists launched an attack in which two priests and forty-six worshipers were killed.

For now, the Holy See has let it be known that the completion of the trip is not yet fully assured, based on possible changes in the health context.