Pope Francis visits Iraq

The pope visits despite violence escalating and COVID cases rising throughout the country.
6:47 | 03/05/21

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Transcript for Pope Francis visits Iraq
While France's has arrived in Baghdad becoming the first cold ever to visit Iraq. The trip is happening despite escalating violence rising Kobe cases and international concerns senior foreign correspondent in panel is there and he joins me now with more. In good morning why was told France's so adamant about taking that strip. Mean this is something actually that he and his predecessors who wanted to do for decades exact seats Pope Saint John pull the second. Who wants it to come to Iraq in the first place is back in 1999. He never made his pilgrimage to the country. But hope France isn't being adamant this is something wants to do the zoo's first threats since the pandemic erupted around the globe oops I'm there number reasons why he wants to make this trip closely because Iraq speeches largely Iraq Mesopotamia yes largely in in the Bible this is being are. And some people's eyes the birth place of christianity because this is where Abraham. He did bring him was apparently bold and the Pope is gonna visit. Outside down in or in the south of the country. But he also wants to bring a message of healing and reconciliation. I'm goodness that's something that Iraqis definitely wants a hair and a death may indeed all but yet of course there are huge concerns about his personal safety a lot of people have been gang says trips pocket because of the pandemic. That is in you know the numbers are picking up certainly down in the south and Baghdad lasso will appear in the north. And people who said well look if you hold lasso -- go to a church that is potentially a super spreader of bands but the Vatican's been insistent that they put security precautions in place. The other concerns of course on his own personal safety oasis is still very much activity at our issues remember said we will go to Rome we will occupy Rome. You know today has set best tools against a Christian community here we've been talking to people tens of thousands of them have been driven from the country who suffered unimaginable things and so he wants to bring that message of healing. Up ICC of the increase tensions between Iran. Latin America but she has been adamant that he wants to bring its message and I can't say I think is something Iraqis really want to hear it some Redd did a good news in the country dumb fortunate we associate with so much wrapped around. And so Ian what's his agenda while he's there. So as I say series until June 1 two bolts of this church in Baghdad that was the size of a terrible terrible suicide bombing of the fifty worshippers. Were killed in that particular attack is one the first early attacks by -- is in the country a series during a visit outside to cause he's gonna have a political meetings with the president he's already met the primary process of the diplomatic community. He's under together dancer. Do you law down in the south it's one of these ancient signs with some stunning buildings in the normal world of real people's tourist agenda to trying go home visits it's it's the birthplace of irony of Abraham mall in Britain and he's the patriarch of christianity. Judaism. And surveys slabs -- visit backside interestingly he's also go route Doug going to meet grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and he is. Probably the leading Shiite cleric in the country one of the most influential Shiite clerics around the world he is someone who's gonna sit down and meet with the puppies ninety years old but he is so influential in this country and seeing someone who is a figure head that share is slam meeting together with the man who represents christianity I think is an astonishing images shows how much progress has been made in how much could be made in this country Jenny comes up hits of the north he's killing some Mosul he's doing to the churches that. Unlicensed took over ice his religious police will based inside some of these buildings. I can say is well they swore that they'd go to Rome they desecrated these churches we've seen many of them. They use them as target ranges they destroyed some of the ancient artifacts and many of those judges were badly damaged by the bombing during the war and he's gonna go to another beleaguered Christian communes in that he's gonna come here to bill. And hold glass on Sunday day and you really large. Scale events is an open air mass they say that will be social distancing us we'll see whether or not that's true but so you know you see the posters around securities incredibly tides whole areas of being sealed off because of those concerns. But I think a lot of people are going to be watching this and just to show you how it's captured the nation is being carried live on Iraqi TV Bryant now Diane. So in how significant is this visit to Iraq's Christian population but also just a general message of religious unity and peace among other religions. Guys -- great question you know this is a much needed shot in the -- for the Christine community used to number around one half to two million inside the country is really Christian population in Iraq since the second century -- of the oldest Christian populations in the world today that number from one and a half men is down to somewhere around shoots -- 250000. Now that's happened over a longer period of time but certainly it'll happen in the twentieth century pretty much over two decades the community was increasingly targeted in particular after the US led invasion economy lifted some of the protection the Christian community in -- in Iraq and it laid them open to attacks in particular by increasingly radical groups al-Qaeda and crisis among some like -- -- -- the community being -- -- -- the country but lost to -- and now living in the in the US and elsewhere around the world and that the communities here bill really believed it to mean that towns we've visited. NIC's came. Everybody lack. A talent 50000 people completely abandon those who stayed behind him we've been talking to them they were brutally treated by Ollie says we met based. Really sweet elderly couple a brother and sister crisis took their money took that jewelry took all her possessions. And then soaring elements of the rip up towards them drown this elderly man 73 years old patents and try and save his 86 year old. A big sister up tragic tales and there's a repeats it again again so yes the Christian community and really wants. This kind of support they say they've never had so much attention from the government's but I think other communities as well trying to bridge that sectarian divides the UZD community as well. A little lose I'll work a little press to be done yet. All right in panel in Iraqi and thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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