Sunday, 09 May, 2021


Pope Francis Lands in Baghdad, Marking First-ever Papal Visit to Iraq

Pope Francis boards a plane as he departs to Iraq Pope Francis boards a plane as he departs to Iraq
Patty Aguilar | 06 March, 2021, 08:59

The Iraqis have vowed to keep security tight for the pope during his visit after rockets were fired at U.S. military targets days before Francis touched down.

Previously, he had remarked that Iraqi Christians could not be "let down for a second time", following Pope John Paul II's cancelled trip in 1999 after talks with the dictator Saddam Hussein's regime broke down.

The 84-year-old, who said he was making the first-ever papal visit to Iraq as a "pilgrim of peace", will also reach out to Shia Muslims when he meets Iraq's top cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.

"It is essential to ensure the participation of all political, social and religious groups and to guarantee the fundamental rights of all citizens".

Pope Francis also pointed to the suffering endured by the Yazidis, who he said were "innocent victims of senseless and brutal atrocities, persecuted and killed for their religion, and whose very identity and survival was put at risk".

Some Shi'ite militant groups have opposed the Pope's visit, framing it as Western interference in Iraq's affairs, but many Iraqis hope it can help foster a fresh view of Iraq.

Pope Francis and Iraqi President Barham Salih shake hands, at Baghdad's Presidential Palace, Iraq, Friday, March 5, 2021.

"This is a symbolic trip". Those travelling with him have also been vaccinated.

"I come among you as a pilgrim of peace, to repeat 'you are all brothers, '" Francis said in a video-message to the Iraqi people on the eve of his visit.

Rockets struck a military base used by USA military forces in Iraq on Wednesday, leading to the death of a US civilian contractor who died of a heart attack while sheltering from the attack.

The Vatican has said that during his visit the pope would travel in an armored vehicle and hold only one large event, a Mass in a soccer stadium on Sunday, with social distancing among the attendees to protect against contagion.

Pope Francis urged Iraqi officials to "combat the scourge of corruption, misuse of power and disregard for law", in a country consistently ranked one of the most graft-tainted by Transparency International.

"We know how easy it is to be infected by the virus of discouragement that at times seems to spread all around us", the pope told them.

Later Friday, Pope Francis prayed at the Baghdad church that was the site of one of the worst massacres of Christians, an attack in 2010 by Islamic militants that left 58 people dead.

Iraq had lost the majority of its Christian population, among other minorities, during the last few decades due to continuing wars and security crises - most recently the rise of Islamic State, which caused many to flee Iraq or to be displaced internally. "Every Sunday I hold mass at 9 a.m., and only around 70 people attend", said the Rev. Raed Adil Kelo, parish priest of the Church of the Annunciation in the onetime de-facto IS capital. Christians also fled to escape the clutches of the so-called Islamic State terrorist group, whose militants overran northern Iraq in 2014, destroying historic churches, seizing property, and giving its Christian minority the grim choice of paying a tax to live on Muslim soil, converting, leaving, or execution. He stressed the importance of peaceful coexistence and the preservation of Iraq's almost 2,000-year-old Christian community.

Recommended

loading...
...

Tsunami warning issued in New Zealand after magnitude 6.9 quake Tsunami warning issued in New Zealand after magnitude 6.9 quake Despite the significant strength of the earthquakes, no widespread injuries or deaths have been reported . It advised people near the coast to immediately move to high ground if they felt strong or long shaking.

Prince Philips health is improving, says Duchess Camilla Prince Philips health is improving, says Duchess Camilla According to a royal correspondent, the Queen is "keeping calm" and "carrying on" amid the Duke of Edinburgh's hospitalisation. In 2011, he was rushed to a hospital by helicopter after suffering chest pains and was treated for a blocked coronary artery.

Alek Minassian found guilty of all charges in 2018 Toronto van attack Alek Minassian found guilty of all charges in 2018 Toronto van attack Murder in Canada carries a life sentence and those found guilty must serve at least 25 years before being considered for parole. Molloy found Minassian's ASD didn't prevent him from fully understanding his actions were both legally and morally wrong.

Democrats OK slightly tighter income limits for stimulus checks Democrats OK slightly tighter income limits for stimulus checks The Democratic-controlled Senate is hoping for a final vote later in the week on passage of Biden's top legislative priority. Increasing additional unemployment benefits from $300 to $400 per week is also popular, with support from 67% of Americans.

Trudeau optimistic Canada can accelerate COVID-19 vaccine timeline Trudeau optimistic Canada can accelerate COVID-19 vaccine timeline Jeong noted that there were no cases of fatalities from receiving COVID-19 vaccines developed by AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech. The health authorities also say there's evidence for an 83 percent reduction in coronavirus deaths with the Pfizer vaccine.

Brazilian coronavirus variant found in five states IS more contagious Brazilian coronavirus variant found in five states IS more contagious Asked about how anxious people should be about the Brazilian variant, he said: "Somewhat anxious , but not total panic, perhaps". Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the detection of the variant in the United Kingdom was "deeply concerning".

Biden vows enough vaccine for all United States adults by end of May Biden vows enough vaccine for all United States  adults by end of May The Biden administration announced on Tuesday that Johnson & Johnson and Merck are teaming up. The US Food and Drug Administration issued its emergency use authorization on Saturday.

United Kingdom extends furlough scheme by five months, gives more help to self-employed United Kingdom  extends furlough scheme by five months, gives more help to self-employed In addition, this budget provides an additional £2.4 billion to the devolved administrations in 2021-22 through the Barnett formula.

One dead after several rockets slam into military base in Iraq One dead after several rockets slam into military base in Iraq The US blamed Iran-backed Shia militias and carried out retaliatory air strikes on one of their facilities in Syria. The attack early Wednesday is the first since, and Marotto said Iraqi security forces were investigating it.

Schumer says "we'll have the votes" to pass COVID relief bill Schumer says Mesnard says he supports the bill to avoid the cost of mailing ballots to people who apparently don't want them. Democratic senators were privately discussing reallocating at least some of the huge pot of money.

Gregg Popovich on Texas lifting mask mandate: 'This is really ridiculous' Gregg Popovich on Texas lifting mask mandate: 'This is really ridiculous' Businesses are able to limit capacity or implement additional safety protocols if they choose to do so. The district is awaiting further guidance from the Texas Education Agency.

Chris Cuomo Says He 'Obviously' Can't Cover Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Brother Chris Cuomo Says He 'Obviously' Can't Cover Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Brother Abinanti also castigated Cuomo's behavior, tweeting , "As Dizzy Dean said (1944): stick a fork in him - he's done". He denied Boylan's allegations in his statement and said that in Bennett's case, he had meant to act like a mentor.

PH seeks release of Suu Kyi PH seeks release of Suu Kyi State-run MRTV television said more than 470 people had been arrested on Saturday when police launched the nationwide crackdown. While some Western countries have imposed limited sanctions, the generals have traditionally shrugged off diplomatic pressure.

Duke of Edinburgh transferred to second hospital in ambulance Duke of Edinburgh transferred to second hospital in ambulance Two days later the Duke of Cambridge said his grandfather was "OK" and that doctors were "keeping an eye" on him. Barts Heart Centre is Europe's largest specialised cardiovascular service, according to the hospital's website .

Second former aide accuses NY governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment Second former aide accuses NY  governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment She told The New York Times late Monday that she had met the governor for the first time at a September 2019 wedding reception. The governor's office authorized the probe, clearing the way for the hiring of an independent law firm to conduct the inquiry.