Pope Francis: “I am very close to the Iraqi people”
A group of pilgrims visited Pope Francis on Wednesday during his general audience to whom the Holy Father expressed his special welcome. He also referred to his hope to visit the Middle Eastern country, however, the Vatican hasn't confirmed an official visit.
“I pray for you and I pray for peace in your country, which it was planned that I visit this year,” Pope Francis said during the general audience but according to CNA, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni confirmed that no papal visit will take place this year to Iraq.
“Citizens of Iraq, I tell you I am very close to you. You are in a battlefield, you suffer a war, from one side and the other,” Francis also said on Wednesday.
Due to mostly security reasons and turmoil in the country, it is highly unlikely that a papal visit would be possible without great concern. If Pope Francis would travel to Iraq, he would be the first to visit the Middle Eastern country as the bishop of Rome.
The country is still divided over the formation of the new government. The latest vote to grant confidence to Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Tawfik Allawi was postponed because the Shiite component of the parliamentary assembly asked him to expel th US troops from the territory of Iraq, while the Sunni and Kurdish members support the American military presence. This is because there are still “clandestine cells” present in the country.
Christians also want their voice to be heard and take a role in the reconstruction of Iraq. But the five seats reserved for the Christian minorities are barely enough to step up as a strong component of the Iraqi parliament.
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