The Pope’s visit to Iraq must be more than a PR exercise

Pope Francis can use this trip to highlight the plight of minorities and start the process of ensuring equal rights for all groups in Iraq, both constitutionally and in practice, writes Bel Trew

Wednesday 03 March 2021 00:00
comments
<p>Father Nazeer Dako arranges a Vatican flag to welcome Pope Francis at St Joseph’s Chaldean Church in Baghdad</p>

Father Nazeer Dako arranges a Vatican flag to welcome Pope Francis at St Joseph’s Chaldean Church in Baghdad

T

he stories from Iraq’s Christian communities are harrowing. There is the Iraqi archbishop who fled with his parishioners and precious manuscripts but drove straight into Isis fighters storming their hometown. The Christian family unable to get relatives out of their Isis-besieged town in time and, seven years on, are still looking for them. The priest whose parents escaped with minutes to spare before the slaughter and have now moved to Australia.

While Isis has been almost entirely defeated, the scars from the past few years in Iraq run deep. There are still tens of thousands of Christians who are displaced or who have left the country. Their homes were destroyed by the fighting and they cannot return. They feel targeted because of their religion and do not feel safe or treated as equal citizens.

Many are looking to the visit of Pope Francis on Friday, the first time a Pope has come to Iraq, not just for hope but as a vehicle for real change – for Christians, yes, but also for all of Iraq’s vulnerable minorities.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments