Pope Francis left Rome for Iraq on Friday. It is the first-ever visit of a Pope to the country and the first trip abroad for Francis during the corona pandemic. He will return on Monday.
The 84-year-old Pope faces a busy schedule in Iraq. He visits Christian communities to support members. There is also a meeting with the Shia Ayatollah Ali Sistani on the program.
Iraq is deploying many soldiers to ensure the safety of the Pope during the visit. There have been rocket attacks and suicide bombings in the country in recent weeks.
Francis also visits Ur, the birthplace of the prophet Abraham. For a long time, Christians were a large minority of around 8 to 12 percent of Iraq’s population. In the past twenty years, this has declined sharply due to the violence of war and persecution.
According to estimates, less than half a million of the more than 38 million inhabitants are currently Christian.