Chaldean Catholics in Iraq are praying that Pope Francis really will be able to visit their country in March.
Cardinal Louis Sako, the Baghdad-based patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, composed a prayer for all his faithful to recite together at Masses.
Agenzia Nova, an Italian news agency specialising in international political and economic reporting, published a story on 12th January saying that a security and intelligence delegation from Italy had arrived in Iraq to tour possible sites for papal events with Iraqi security officials.
While the Vatican announced the dates for the planned trip – 5th to 8th March – a formal programme had not been released and Pope Francis said in an interview on 10th January that he was not certain the visit would be possible. There are obvious security concerns, but also questions about the making such a trip in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Still, Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, reported on 14th January that the Chaldean Catholics were asking “the Almighty Lord to make possible the announced visit of Pope Francis to the land of the two rivers,” the Euphrates and the Tigris.
The text of the prayer begins: “Lord our God, grant Pope Francis health and safety to carry out successfully this eagerly awaited visit. Bless his effort to promote dialogue, enhance fraternal reconciliation, build confidence, consolidate peace values and human dignity, especially for us Iraqis who have been through painful events that affected our lives.
“Lord, our Creator, enlighten our hearts with your light to recognize goodness and peace, and to realise them,” the prayer continued. “Mother Mary, we entrust Pope Francis’ visit to your maternal care so that the Lord may grant us the grace of living in a complete national communion and cooperate fraternally to build a better future for our country and our citizens. Amen.”
Picture: Pope Francis greets Cardinal Louis Sako, the Baghdad-based patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, during a meeting with Chaldean Catholics at the Church of St Simon the Tanner in Tbilisi, Georgia, on 30th September 2016. Cardinal Sako has composed a prayer for his faithful to recite, asking God to make Pope Francis’ hoped-for March trip to Iraq a reality. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).