When Pope and Grand Ayatollah meet, there is hope for all Iraqis

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Whether or not you have read Professor Ian Linden’s excellent piece about the Pope’s visit to Iraq in TheArticle of 24 February, allow me to follow up with some personal anecdotes to emphasise the extraordinary significance and potential impact of his visit to this historical arc of civilisation. 

On one of my early visits to Baghdad after 2010, I recall sitting with the brave Canon Andrew White and some members of his congregation at St George’s there, where the agony of Christian flight from Iraq was made stark. A mother told us that her son had arrived at work that morning to find a knife stuck into his desk with a message attached. It said simply “Leave”. “What are we to do?” she asked. “My family has lived here for generations, this is our home, but…he is my son.” And she broke down in tears. Behind the grim statistics of the dramatic flight of hundreds of thousands of Christians who have been leaving Iraq since 2003, lie countless individual stories like this.