Pope Francis Prepares to Visit Iraq, Despite Covid-19 and Security Fears
Pope Francis is preparing to travel to Iraq this week, marking his first international trip and public appearance since before the pandemic began. Iraq is currently battling a surge in terrorist attacks and a spike in Covid-19 cases, creating concern over the Pope’s safety. The four-day tour will begin on Friday and take place in six different cities and include meetings with religious and political leaders as well as Mass in a soccer stadium. The pope stated that he chose the country as he wants to show support for Iraq’s Christians and promote dialogue with Islam.
However, the trip is causing widespread security and public health concerns for Iraqi authorities. Catholic officials allegedly feel the same way, with many in the Vatican stating that the trip’s timing is inadvisable, requesting that the pope delay it. The pope has struggled to maintain his visibility during a year of lockdowns and is reportedly determined to return to the world stage. The pope’s visit will be the most high-profile test of Iraq’s security provision since the defeat of the Islamic State, according to those familiar with the matter.