Returning from Iraq, pope talks about ‘risks’ taken on trip

Asked about his meeting March 6 in Najaf with Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, an authority figure for Shiite Muslims in Iraq and around the world, Pope Francis said it “was good for my soul” and was another step on the path of promoting greater understanding and cooperation with Muslims.

Pope Francis: An essential traveler ready to go

“I am the pastor of people who are suffering,” Pope Francis told Catholic News Service Feb. 1 during a discussion about his Iraq trip. In a sign of his determination to travel to Iraq, the pope indicated to CNS that he would consider taking a regular commercial flight to get there if needed.

Iraq announces COVID-19 restrictions ahead of papal trip

Two days after the Iraqi government announced stringent COVID-19 precautions, including the closure of mosques and churches “until further notice,” the prime minister met with the Vatican nuncio to discuss “the preparation for the scheduled visit of His Holiness,” Pope Francis.