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Pope wraps up historic Iraq visit

Pope Francis boards a plane upon concluding his visit to Iraq at Baghdad airport, Iraq, March 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Pope Francis boards a plane upon concluding his visit to Iraq at Baghdad airport, Iraq, March 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Pope Francis wraps up his historic whirlwind tour of Iraq that sought to bring hope to the country’s marginalized Christian minority with a message of coexistence, forgiveness and peace.

The pontiff and his traveling delegation are seen off with a farewell ceremony at the Baghdad airport, from where he leaves for Rome following a four-day papal visit that has covered five provinces across Iraq.

As the pope’s plane takes off, Iraqi President Barham Salih is at hand on the tarmac, waving goodbye.

At every turn of his trip, Francis urged Iraqis to embrace diversity — from Najaf in the south, where he held a historic face-to-face meeting with powerful Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, to Nineveh to the north, where he met with Christian victims of the Islamic State group’s terror and heard their testimonies of survival.

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