Transcript for Inside the pope’s trip to Iraq
Hope Francis is kicking off an historic first visit. Tour rock today he touched down with a red carpet ceremony addressing Iraqi and church leaders and the message of peace. And tolerance a rock of course is seen by many as the cradle of christianity though decades of violence there have decimated the Christian population. ABC senior foreign correspondent Ian panel has a closer look. In the empty storefronts of the faceless shopping Mal in Northern Iraq. The fooled in the field goals in each count and existence and they'll aluminum won't it's not much and I look at for six long painful he is running in these family of cold this at home. They just in now is drawings bushel willed away from the hometown about ten left. Full styles one fateful day in the Lucas 2014. Win crisis came to their dual. Well look out as it. Sample of Lewis who disagree. And Sunday's. Came dollar Hollis hunt almost relieved. We sit and watch. They say the don't ask why just few lives have done that prices are new to. Did you know who they would kill you he ran does we're getting there and they say check it and even even without without. Journalists. This is a story of an entire religion he's been in Iraq since the second century. Targeted persecuted. Up rooted. The Christians of Iraq sell homers. Why because we are Christian Arab. The American invasion of Iraq turned sectarian tensions into open war fat. Minorities who lost their protection and were increasingly targeted by a new breed of Islamist extremism. First there was al-Qaeda then came oasis would swept across the name of the brains of the Knowles. The heartland of the recchi christianity Barack. Is the birthplace of Abraham or Abraham the patriarch of Judaism christianity. And Islam who moved that belong some claimed even the gun have beaten the country has more biblical sites than anywhere else outside the home day Israel. This three religions so closely linked flourished here hundreds of years until the twentieth century. First it was the Jewish population of rooted decades. Today Nancy M and. Today it's christianity in Iraq the faces extinction. Only about a quarter of the million Christians who remain in the country down from at least won the half million just twenty years ago. We were in the region in 27 team as Iraqi forces forward to take back. Christie and towns and the city of Mosul from the black stood to crisis. This was a battle of the ages and large parts of the old city will flattened by the fighting. Who is shell shocked residents struggled to escape. A dozen to a dozen people have just gone by men and women some of them clearly very badly injured as no hospital is no cash. Just look at this to the right here this old man just being held buys grandson. Today crisis is gone but the scars run deep. Few places more also than the city's Christian community. And it. Now joins us now live in Iraq in its great to see in this visit comes of course is the country is struggling. Through another rate of the corona virus also some real security concerns on the ground there what the coach think this visit now and housing received today. Yeah Erisa mean there are huge concerns in part I think many people were -- Pope coming here goods. This is something that he has felt for long time is a pilgrimage that he wants to make her mean Iraq is importance of that anyone. Whether you're Christian Jewish all old or indeed Islamic I mean this is a country that are as a similar poll that was the birthplace of the patriarchs Abraham mole in bring him released biblical signs. This is also about trying to keels some of these deep deep wounds in the country's. Eighteen years since EUS invaded Iraq. And the sectarian divisions it unleashed led to widespread bloodshed and it gave birth to our Qaeda in Iraq and also to Ollie says. And and whose heels are still very very rule those those wounds are a very very rules and have the mission of the Pope really is to try and heal some of those divisions are to try and being bring a message of peace and tolerance. It's a different culture a message to try and bring to Iraq but I think he's won the many people want to hear. And I'm struck him out of fact that the Pope on not just be staying within heavily fortified secure zone he'll be visiting each holy sites in different parts of the country that have been since there were destroyed since been -- bill you of course senator reporting in Iraq for years in. What is the significance of this visit beyond just the symbolism. I think it is significant person because it's something that the vast colonel sent me previous groups who tried to do prolonged period of time. But some of the people some of the places that these visits saying she usually symbolic and it will send the want to message. Across Iraq and across the region for example he's gonna meet grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and he's arguably the most influential share religious leader in the country if someone that a lot of these militias look to and listened to so the whole idea that you -- the head of the Catholic Church meeting one of the most revered. Members of the Xia. Denomination. I think he's usually significant and both of them want to try and puts out this message of trying to heal some of those divisions -- -- would together and there are a lot of political military forces of clay in Iraq this is not a country that is at ease with itself the Lana problems down the line of re union influence the question of the American presence here I'm divisions within Iraqis themselves even within the -- -- -- -- so there's a lot of work to be done but I think the message that it sends to people is one that you can try and build something pull a given unit after local line the number of people have bullet fee is now for example -- out who cover -- amazed just. Bad news after bad news its bombings its divisions it's people being forced to flee their homes I mean the last 24 houses been incredible seeing so much pulls its imitate emanating from social media a panel to rack. When is the last time you heard any good news about this country well I think wiggle struggle to remember that. Yeah we sure can and so it is so great to see that they're in panel think he's so much. Life force in Iraq we know you be covering the pope's visit all weekend Mon.
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