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Rome Reports

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Iraq ambassador to the Vatican: "Iraq wants the pope to come"

The military end of the ISIS could facilitate a trip to a place long desired by Pope Francis: Iraq. There they say that his presence could help the country in two ways: to strengthen the internal peace and to give value to the diminished presence of the Christians. Before the war it was estimated that there were a million and a half Christians and now, there are currently less than 300,000. The country is changing its strategy and opening itself to the world. On March 4, for example, a new ambassador was sent to the Holy See. OMER AHMED KARIM BERZINJI Ambassador of Iraq to the Holy See "Christians have been in Iraq since before the Muslims; their role has been very important. For a people who have been present since the beginnings of the country, the Christians of Iraq want the pope to come." Iraq is beginning a new chapter of its history, where the main challenge will be the unification between Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, Christians, and other ethnic groups or minorities. OMER AHMED KARIM BERZINJI Ambassador of Iraq to the Holy See "Steps are being taken for that unification. The fact that there are people from the south and the Kurdistan area fighting together against the ISIS is a sign of this. It is the fundamentalists who want to give the impression that Iraq is not united. This is not reality. Diversity enriches us and we are working together." In fact, the ambassador to the Holy See was able to meet in Rome with the pope and Iraqi religious and political leaders from different religions or ethnic groups: there were Kurds, Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, Yazidis or Mandeos. The meeting was cordial and the signs of respect and affection were continuous. "This is a symbol... given to the sheikhs. So they call you the sheikh-pope." "Do you give me an upgrade?" Iraq and the Holy See have maintained diplomatic relations since 1966. However, in the face of the threat of a resurgence of fundamentalists in the country, this treaty is called to be further tightened. In fact, it is hoped that the pope's trip to Egypt will help improve the image of Christians and to foment the rejection of ;radicals. JRB/MB AA / CTV - S -PR Up:JC