Pope Francis ends historic Iraq visit with Erbil mass, thousands gather

At least 10,000 people filed into a stadium in Erbil on Sunday for mass with Pope Francis.

This was his final engagement on this historic four-day visit to Iraq.

The stadium has a capacity of 30,000 people but organizers limited attendance to 10,000 as a protective measure to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Waving Iraqi, Kurdish and Vatican City flags to blaring music, crowds welcomed the pontiff at the Franso Hariri Stadium in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.

At the end of the mass, the last official event before he returns to Rome on Monday, Francis told the crowd, "Iraq will always remain with me, in my heart. He closed by saying "salam, salam, salam" (peace, peace, peace) in Arabic.

Iraq’s Christian community, one of the oldest in the world, has been particularly devastated by the country’s years of conflict, falling to about 300,000 from about 1.5 million before the U.S. invasion of 2003 and the brutal Islamist militant violence that followed.

MORE: https://globalnews.ca/news/7682040/pope-francis-is-christians/

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