Pope visits Iraq’s war-ravaged north on last day of tour

Pope visits Iraq’s war-ravaged north on last day of tour

IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — Pope Francis has arrived in northern Iraq, where he plans to pray in the ruins of churches damaged or destroyed by Islamic State extremists. He will also celebrate an open-air Mass Sunday on the last day of the first-ever papal visit to the country. The Vatican hopes that the landmark visit will rally the country’s Christian communities and encourage them to stay despite decades of war and instability. Francis has also delivered a message of interreligious tolerance and fraternity to Muslim leaders. Francis will head to Mosul, once the de facto capital of the Islamic State group, to pray for Iraq’s war dead in a city square surrounded by four heavily damaged churches.

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