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Pope Plans Historic Visit To Iraq As Its Christian Populations Dwindle

  • An Iraqi policeman walks by a mural depicting Pope Francis on the outer walls of Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad on Monday. Pope Francis' visit from March 5 to 8 will include trips to Baghdad, the city of Mosul and a meeting with the country's top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.An Iraqi policeman walks by a mural depicting Pope Francis on the outer walls of Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad on Monday. Pope Francis’ visit from March 5 to 8 will include trips to Baghdad, the city of Mosul and a meeting with the country’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
    AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

BAGHDAD — On a recent Sunday in Baghdad, a congregation of Chaldean Catholics gather — masked and distanced — to attend Mass at the Church of the Holy Family. Some are from the capital, others fled the north of the country when ISIS seized swaths of territory nearly seven years ago.

“They announced it in the churches — leave, quickly, ISIS is coming,” says Nadera Butrus Tobya, 62, at church with her little grandson. She had been at a gathering before her daughter’s wedding near the Iraqi city of Mosul. The family piled into cars and fled the extremists and she has been in Baghdad ever since. Read more …

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