Iraq invites Pope to visit, Chaldean prelate discloses

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Catholic World News – November 18, 2014
Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako has disclosed that Pope Francis has received a formal invitation to visit Iraq.
Speaking at a conference in Rome sponsored by the AsiaNews service, the Chaldean prelate said that he met last Sunday with Iraqi President Fuad Masum, who said that he had issued an invitation for a papal visit through official diplomatic channels. The Chaldean Patriarch had already invited the Pontiff last year, on behalf of the Christian community in Iraq. But a papal visit ordinarily requires an invitation from the head of state as well as the Catholic bishops.

Patriarch Sako told the audience in Rome that a visit from the Holy Father is one of two great desires cherished by his people in Iraq. The other is that refugees driven from their homes by the rise of the Islamic State would be able to return.

Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI both reportedly considered visits to Iraq, but plans were shelved because of complications created by warfare and fears that a papal visit would be exploited for propaganda purposes.

Pope Francis will be traveling to Turkey at end of this month. Earlier this year, Patriarch Sako urged the Pontiff to consider adding a visit to Iraq to his itinerary.