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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - BAGHDAD — Pope Francis ended his historic trip to Iraq and boarded a plane back to Rome on Monday after a four-day visit in which he delivered a message of forgiveness, perseverance, and hope.
Francis is the first pope to travel to Iraq - a visit that the Christians in the north of the country, in particular, had long waited for.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church is expected in Rome early Monday afternoon after departing from Baghdad in the morning, dpa reports.
On Sunday, the 84-year-old flew to Mosul and Qaraqosh, where he was greeted by crowds of believers despite the coronavirus pandemic.
In Mosul, Francis prayed on the church square, which with its destroyed houses of worship became a symbol of the suffering of Christians during the war against Daesh (the so-called IS).
There were once more than 1 million Christians in Iraq, but now their population is estimated to be between 250,000 and 400,000 after years of war, religious persecution, and a steep economic decline.
The pontiff landed in Baghdad on Friday, defying the global pandemic and security concerns after a series of recent attacks in Iraq. — Bahrain News Agency
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