Pope says Iraq trip was worth the risk

Pope Francis looks back from the stairs of the papal plane at Baghdad International Airport yesterday, before departing on his flight to Rome (CNS/Vatican Media via Reuters)

Wrapping up his historic four-day trip to Iraq, Pope Francis said the Church’s commitment to dialogue with other churches and with other religions flows from the Gospel, but some Catholics disagree. Source: CNS.

“Often you must take a risk” to promote harmony, he told reporters yesterday as he flew back to Rome from Baghdad. “There are some criticisms: ‘The Pope isn’t courageous, he’s reckless.’ He’s doing things against Catholic doctrine. He’s a step away from heresy.'”

Still, he said, through prayer and listening to the advice of experts and aides, he has become convinced that God wants the Church — and all humanity, for that matter — to continue promoting a sense of belonging to one human family.

With sporadic violence continuing in Iraq, the Pope’s March 5-8 trip involved a massive security operation with the deployment of thousands of police and military officers.

But the other danger was posed by COVID-19. Pope Francis said the pandemic was what made him repeatedly think, “maybe, maybe not” about the visit.

“I thought so much, prayed so much” about the Iraq trip because of the coronavirus pandemic, “and in the end I made the decision freely, but it came from within. And I said to myself the one who helped me decide this will take care of the people.”

Pope Francis said he has promised to go to Budapest, Hungary, for a day in September to celebrate the closing Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress, which was postponed from 2020. The other trip he would like to make soon, he said, is a visit to Lebanon.

FULL STORY

Returning from Iraq, pope talks about ‘risks’ taken on trip (By Cindy Wooden, CNS)

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