“Pope's trip to Iraq is a response to those who thought this land was no longer worthwhile”

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If all goes according to plan, the pope will travel to Iraq from March 5 to 8. One of the highlights will be a visit to Baghdad-Qaraqosh, in the northern part of the country.

The city holds the country's largest Christian population and is a symbol of ISIS hatred: In 2014, terrorists forced its 50,000 inhabitants to flee.

This is how the city was found by those who returned two years later...

The same thing happened to this priest...

...And to this group of nuns...

Fr. Georges Jahola is one of those who worked to rebuild homes. Thanks to his efforts, 23,000 people have already returned to the city.

Priest in Baghdad-Qaraqosh (Iraq)
'The city is now shining, first of all, because of its citizens. Also, as a parish, its faithful are shining. It shines in the houses that have been rebuilt as a sign of recovery and the tenacity to remain in this land.'

Georges Jahola is organizing for the pope's visit to the city of Qaraqosh, which he prefers to call by its Aramaic name “Baghdeda.”

There Pope Francis will hear stories of martyrs and heroes.

Priest in Baghdad-Qaraqosh (Iraq)
'For us, the visit is a gesture of encouragement and a message to the faint of heart who thought this land was no longer worthwhile.' 'It is worth it because the Holy Father wants this country, these people, to rise and resurrect in this land.'

Pope Francis wants to ask Christians to rebuild the whole country and not to isolate themselves. He wants to bring a message of hope to all Iraqis, exhausted by terror and destruction.

Even more so now that after almost a year and a half of tranquility in Baghdad, there was a double suicide bombing on Jan. 21. The attack claimed more than 30 lives.

Javier Martínez-Brocal

Translation: Christian Campos

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