Pope Francis traveled to Iraq earlier this month, his first trip overseas since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and the first-ever papal visit to the war-torn country. Francis said he wrestled with concerns that the three-day visit could facilitate the spread of COVID-19, but ultimately deemed it a worthwhile opportunity to encourage and show solidarity with Iraq’s dwindling Christian minority. During his travels, the pontiff also highlighted a number of issues that he has devoted considerable attention to throughout his papacy, including poverty, interfaith dialogue and conflict resolution.
Joshua McElwee, the Vatican correspondent and international news editor for the National Catholic Reporter, had a front-row seat to this historic occasion as part of the press pool that traveled with Francis to Iraq. He joins WPR’s Elliot Waldman on the Trend Lines podcast this week to discuss the significance and symbolism of the trip. Click here to read a partial transcript of the interview.
Relevant Articles on WPR:
The Pope’s Visit Exposed Iraq’s Lack of Reconstruction
Under Pope Francis, Vatican Flexes Its Global Political Muscle
In Northern Iraq, Ethnic Minorities Are Key to Rebuilding After ISIS
Are Iraq and the U.S. Ready to Win the Peace After the Liberation of Mosul?
Trend Lines is edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie.
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