I found Pope Francis’s apostolic journey to Iraq powerful, hopeful, and challenging. He did something stubbornly courageous, as Christians there really are at the end of their existential rope.
It was an unprecedented pilgrimage — one that John Paul II wanted to make, and Francis very consciously wanted to fulfill the dream. The Iraqis are wounded and poor people, as was made clear on the profoundly moving trip. It was complete with ecumenical dialogue and ministering to the persecuted Christians there. In Erbil, where the pope celebrated Mass on Sunday, you had a true-to-life field hospital, where the church there has taken in people who had to flee ISIS in Mosul — and also not just Christians. They built a Catholic university. They care for people’s mental, spiritual, and physical health. Archbishop Bashar Warda and his people are nothing short of remarkable, as was the trip.
And to give you an idea of what they are like, Warda told Pope Francis that his courage is overflowing onto them to give them courage. These people who are ready for martyrdom radiate amazing grace.
Earlier today, I talked with Luma Simms from the Ethics and Public Policy Center — who was born in Baghdad — and Robert Nicholson from the Philos Project. And here’s my challenge to anyone who would not normally click on such a link: If you watched Harry and Meghan with Oprah last night, give an hour to the Iraqi Christians. I promise you it was an inspiring conversation. And if you supported the war in Iraq, definitely listen.