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Pope Francis asks for prayers for his visit to Iraq
An Iraqi citizen takes a "selfie" against a banner welcoming Pope Francis03 March 2021. In the run-up to Pope Francis’ Apostolic Visit to Iraq, he asks the faithful to accompany his journey with prayers so it may bear fruit for the Middle Eastern nation.

By Linda Bordoni

Pope Francis addressed the faithful on Wednesday morning asking them to accompany him with prayers as he sets off for an Apostolic Journey to Iraq.

“The day after tomorrow, God willing, I will travel to Iraq for a three-day pilgrimage. It’s been a long time that I have wanted to be able to meet the long-suffering Iraqi people, to have an encounter with the martyr Church in the land of Abraham,” he said, speaking during the weekly General Audience.

Together with other religious leaders in the country, the Pope continued, he hopes another step forward will be taken “in fraternity amongst believers.”

“I ask you to accompany me with prayer on this Apostolic Journey, so it may take place in the best possible way and bring about the desired fruits," he said.

The people of Iraq are awaiting us, Pope Francis concluded, recalling that they had hoped for a visit from Pope Saint John Paul II, who was stopped from going.

“We cannot disappoint a people for the second time,” he said, reiterating his request for prayers so that the journey may bring good fruits.

Pope St. John Paul II

Pope St. John Paul II had expressed his desire to visit Iraq several months before the start of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.

"If it be God's will, I would like to go to Ur of the Chaldees, the present-day Tell el-Muqayyar in southern Iraq, the city where, according to the biblical account, Abraham heard the word of the Lord," he said at the time.

But the papal trip never took place, and of all countries with a biblical history, Iraq has remained the only nation in the Holy Land not visited by a Pope.