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Iraqi PM extends invite to the Pope

by Hannah Tooley

The schedule of Cardinal Leonardo Sandri included a trip to the National Museum, encounters with the country's Catholic clergy and ecumenical leadership, and a trip to Anbar province and the Nineveh Plain to meet with displaced Christians and Muslims.

Vatican Radio reported that Cardinal Sandri will also meet with diplomats and with Iraqi President Fuad Masum.

He also visited a refugee camp, preached at Iraq's cathedral, and met with civil leaders.

During one meeting, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi extended an invitation to the Pope to visit Iraq, according to an Italian media report.

Cardinal Sandri focused on the reading proclaimed from the Acts of the Apostles, in which St. Paul appears before King Herod Agrippa.

He renewed his call and the Holy Father's for assistance from the international community to help all those facing persecution in Iraq, and especially for the country's Christian community.

He thanked the UN's High Representative for Iraq for his presence at the Liturgy, and Cardinal Sandri spoke words of encouragement to the Christians of Iraq.

He said: "The Cross of the Son of God continues to be planted in this land.

"In order that the definitive event of the Resurrection might embrace and involve every man - as we read in the Prophet Isaiah and as it is recalled in the Gospel according to St. Luke: 'All flesh shall see the salvation of God."

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