Pope Francis is flying to Baghdad. The aircraft, an Airbus A330, took off at 7.45 today March 5, 2021 from Leonardo Da Vinci Airport in Rome. During the four days of stay in Iraq, there will be seven in total the speeches delivered by Bergoglio. His return to Italy is scheduled for Monday, March 8, late in the morning, at the military airport of Rome Ciampino. The Pope flies to Iraq for a historical journey that he strongly desired challenging pandemics and security. “Finally, I will be among you. I want so much to meet you, see your faces, visit your land, ancient and extraordinary cradle of civilization”, he said in a video message to the Iraqi people a few hours after departure. A visit in the name of peace and hope. A pastoral but also political journey. “I come as a penitent pilgrim to implore forgiveness and reconciliation from the Lord after years of war and terrorism – these are the words of the Pontiff -, to ask God for the consolation of hearts and the healing of wounds”. To Christians, who have suffered in this land a harsh persecution at the hands of ISIS the Pope says that he wants to bring them “the caress of the Church”. And in the land of Abraham, the father of all monotheistic religions, Bergoglio relaunches the path of dialogue: “In these difficult times of pandemic, let us help to strengthen fraternity, to build together a future of peace. Together, brothers and sisters of every religious tradition. From you, millennia ago, Abraham began his journey. Today it is up to us to continue it, in the same spirit, along the paths of peace together!”. Iraq is living its lockdown these days with the closure of all public places, including mosques. On Sunday, March 7, the Pope will celebrate Mass in the stadium of Erbil, in Kurdistan. A “historical visit”: with these words the Iraqi government announces the arrival of Pope Francis. President of the Republic Barham Salih said that the visit will contribute to strengthening the values of tolerance and peace at a global level, not only in Iraq, adding that “Pope Francis’ journey to Mesopotamia will be a message of peace for Iraqis of all religions and will help to affirm our common values of justice and dignity”. Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said that the Pope’s visit will help consolidate stability and help promote a spirit of brotherhood in Iraq and throughout the region; “the whole world appreciates His Holiness’s dedication to the values of peace, dignity and to ending conflicts,” the Baghdad government stresses.
This is a great gesture as he is the first pontiff in history to visit the Iraqi people. Because of the instability of the country, the pope had to postpone this long-awaited and desired trip several times. A courageous man who in a difficult time like the one we are experiencing because of the pandemic, decides to go to a place where he risks not only for his own health, but also for his own safety.