BAGHDAD — Iraqis have been looking at the announcement of Pope Francis’ plan to visit to Iraq next year with various but positive outlooks.
The announcement gained more momentum after Iraqi President Barham Salih’s visit to the Vatican in November in which he encouraged the pope to visit Iraq. A year ago, the patriarch of Babylon for the Chaldean Catholic Church, Louis Raphael I Sako, was elevated to cardinal, one more indication that the pope is paying more attention to Iraq and the future of Christians in the country.
The pope’s visit schedule would probably include the historical city of Ur in southern Iraq, which many believe was the birthplace of the Prophet Abraham. As such, it should be an event of profound symbolic significance that affirms the unity of Iraqis regardless of their religious beliefs since Abraham is known as the father of prophets; this commonality in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic narratives shows the exceptional spiritual significance of Ur for all major faiths in the Middle East.
The pope had previously announced his desire to visit Iraq this year. That visit, however, was subsequently held off for security concerns, causing widespread disappointment in Iraq.
By: Saad Salloum