After a fifteen month break from international travel, Pope Francis is set to make his first papal trip since the beginning of the pandemic to Iraq.
Accepting an invitation from the Iraqi government and the Church in Iraq, Pope Francis will stay for four days in four different provinces.
Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni said the “Apostolic Journey” would “take into consideration the evolution of the worldwide health emergency.”
“The programme of the journey will be made known in due course. 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.”
Long in the making, Pope Francis last expressed his desire to travel to the country in June of 2019.
“I think constantly of Iraq – where I want to go next year – in the hope that it can face the future through the peaceful and shared pursuit of the common good on the part of all elements of society, including the religious, and not fall back into hostilities sparked by the simmering conflicts of the regional powers.”
If Pope Francis does visit Iraq, it would be the first time a pope ever has done so. Pope Saint John Paul II planned on doing so in 1999, but never did after Saddam Hussein postponed it.