The Rev. Karam Quasha, a parish priest in northern Iraq, says Francis can mend the ‘broken trust’ between the country’s ancient faiths.
VATICAN CITY — In Iraq, the birthplace of Abraham, the patriarch of three major faiths, religion has rarely so divided the country, and Christians, descendants of one of their faith’s oldest communities, feel more threatened than they have in living memory.
The Rev. Karam Qasha, a parish priest of the Chaldean Catholic Church of St. George in Telskuf, in northern Iraq, is among those hoping Pope Francis can mend the “broken trust” between the country’s Christians and Muslims and give courage to frightened Christians.
Francis will visit Iraq March 5-8, making good on St. John Paul II’s attempt to travel to Iraq in 2000 when failed negotiations with the government of Saddam Hussein prevented John Paul from visiting.
Francis is expected to visit Ur, thought to be the birthplace of Abraham, and to meet with political and religious representatives in the country.
“Perhaps his presence will heal the many wounds in the hearts of many faithful and show that the church didn’t abandon its faithful,” Qasha told reporters on Thursday (Feb. 4) while visiting Rome.
According to the priest, “this visit won’t be just for Iraq, but all of the Middle East.”