Head of Chaldean Church hails pope’s Iraq visit

The visit of Pope Francis to Iraq on March 5-8 will be “an exceptional event” for the nearly half a million Christians living in the country, Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, told Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera. 

“We had been waiting for a pope to come to Iraq for decades. We needed it immensely after all these years of darkness,” said Sako, whose family comes from the Iraqi city of Mosul, and whose appointment as cardinal by Pope Francis in 2018 was seen as a sign of the Vatican’s appreciation of the country’s Christians. 

“The pope’s visit to Iraq sends a signal of hope, not only to our country, not only to the Christian community, but to the entire Middle East.” After decades of war and pain, “the pope’s message of peace and brotherhood is of exceptional importance. He comes to tell us that religion does not divide; quite the opposite, it can unite,” said Sako. 

“It helps to find common languages ​​in God and in faith. We must put an end to the decline of civil coexistence,” he added. “The pope will come here to tell us that we are all brothers, all children of God.” Sako said he does not believe that the pope will be in danger in Iraq. “The security measures taken are impressive. Daesh has lost strength,” he added. 

by Francesco Bongarra

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