Iraqi Couple Express Disappointment At Being Denied Visas To Meet With Pope Francis In Philadelphia

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Sabine Perera |
Iraqi couple denied visa to meet with Pope Francis as he tours the United States (Photo : REUTERS/TONY GENTILE)
With many Catholic devotees clamoring to catch a glimpse of the Pope as the pontiff makes his way through the streets of the United Sates, one Iraqi couple have been prevented from making the journey to Philadelphia owing to a visa issue.

The Iraqi couple Riyadh Azzu and his wife Sanaa Habeeb had been invited by the Pope previously to attend a Synod of the Bishops on the theme of family last year, according to Time.
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The couple was in Rome during the Synod to tell Bishop’s of their experience and how it was affecting Christian families while the issues of migration continued to fracture families.

Given the current political upheavals in Iraq and the ongoing spate of violence, the Unites States visa that the couple had applied for has been denied. The couple who were part of a Iraqi Church group that attended the 2012 “World Meeting Of Families” in Milan where they met the Pope previously, told the publication of their disappointment.

This year the Philadelphia World Meeting of Families will begin this week and end with a special mass to be conducted by Pope Francis on Sunday. The publication covered the couple’s story of their changing lives in Iraq after the Islamic State took over forcing more than 100,000 Iraqi Christians from their homes.

The couple who spoke to the publication said they would have liked to have attended especially with this year’s themes for the conference focusing on “Extended Family, and the couple being grandparents themselves they felt they could have contributed to the experience.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis’ historic arrival in the United States was been marked by an unprecedented welcome for a dignitary where President Obama and his family personally greeted the Pontiff as he alighted from his flight.

En route to the United States the Pope spoke to reporters on the flight and told CNN that he was very happy to be making his first American visit and brushed off suggestions that he was a socialist and said his beliefs are in keeping with the doctrines of the Church.

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