ASIA/IRAQ - The government has allocated the first funds to prepare for the possible visit of Pope Francis
Baghdad (Agenzia Fides) - The Iraqi government has already allocated part of the funds destined to prepare for the possible, future visit to Iraq of Pope Francis, scheduled for the year 2020. This was revealed by Abdul Amir al Hamdani, Iraqi Minister of Culture, of tourism and antiquities, in a statement to a satellite television network, relaunched by the national media. In detail, the Iraqi minister reported that the first tranche of funding budgeted by the government amounts to 3 billion Iraqi dinars (equivalent to almost 2 million 247 thousand euros) and will be destined to begin urban redevelopment works in the cities which will be crossed during the Pope's apostolic visit.
The hypothesis of a forthcoming papal visit has so far had no official confirmation from the Vatican. To promptly move the Iraqi institutions to ensure adequate logistical management of this possibility, are the words with which Pope Francis himself, on receiving the participants in the reunion of aid agencies for the oriental churches (Roaco) on 10 June, alluded to his desire to go to Iraq "next year". On 20 June, Iraqi President Barham Salih handed over to Cardinal and Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako (see photo) an official invitation letter addressed to the Bishop of Rome. Patriarch Sako himself, in a recent interview, suggested that the Pope, during his trip to Iraq, could also visit Baghdad as well as Ur of the Chaldeans - the place of origin of the Patriarch Abraham, Father of all, to then go up to the north of the Country, with the possibility of meeting refugees who have not yet returned to their homes and cities, which they abandoned when large parts of the region - starting with the metropolis of Mosul - had fallen under the rule of the jihadists of the Islamic State (Daesh). (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 6/7/2019)