'Pilgrim of peace' Pope Francis heads to war-scarred Iraq

Pope Francis began a historic trip to war-battered Iraq on Friday, defying security fears and the pandemic to comfort one of the world’s oldest and most persecuted Christian communities. The 84-year-old, who said he was making the first-ever papal visit to Iraq as a “pilgrim of peace,” will also reach out to Shiite Muslims when he meets Iraq’s top cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. The pope left Rome early Friday for the four-day journey, his first abroad since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, which left the leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics saying he felt “caged” inside the Vat…

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