Pope Francis is visiting Irak

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Pope Francis is visiting Iraq in historic trip to meet with Ayatollah Sistani. The pilgrimage to historic Babylon has been a dream of former popes. The significance of this action is a profound statement about the importance of tolerance and dialogue in a turbulent region. The meeting is a private affair in the modest home of the ayatollah in Najaf, without the pomp, protocol and entourage normally associated with a visiting head of state. The Shia Islamic world is divided between a mainstream, Iraq-based school of Islam that believes there should be a separation of church and state and a revolutionary, Iran-based school that believes in theocracy. the pope’s meeting with Sistani has focused local and international media attention on the peaceful, tolerant voices in the region.

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Francis’ visit to churches in Baghdad targeted by Islamist terrorists and his visit to Mosul in the north send a reassuring message to these indigenous communities about their importance. The pope’s visit is a message of peace from the world to Iraq. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi welcomed Francis at Baghdad International Airport. He was greeted with fanfare as he stepped onto the red carpet, and then by a choir as he entered the airport. Crowds of people waved Iraqi and Vatican flags. Officials insist social distancing measures will be in place at all events.