Among those awaiting Pope Francis' planned March 5-8 visit to Iraq are the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, a community in the Nineveh plain that is still rebuilding after Islamic State fighters invaded the area some six years ago.
Sr. Luma Khudher, a member of the group, described how they received warning of the approaching fighters near midnight on Aug. 3, 2014, and fled from their motherhouse in Mosul right away.
The community found safety near Irbil in Iraqi's Kurdistan region, but was not able to return home for two years.
"We need the world to know what ISIS have done to us, how we have suffered in these years," Khudher told NCR. "For some time, the media focused on Iraq and then, all of a sudden, they forgot us."
"The pope's visit will place the world's eyes on us, on our story and our struggle to survive," she said, adding that she expects Francis will bring with him "a message of peace and coexistence."
- In the latest Francis, the comic strip, Brother Leo and Gabby talk about Pope Francis' upcoming trip to Iraq.
- A week before Pope Francis was scheduled to arrive in Iraq, the Vatican nuncio in Baghdad and several members of the staff tested positive for COVID-19 and began self-isolating.
- Read all of NCR's coverage of Francis' trip to Iraq here.
The February winter storm in Texas was devastating, especially in underserved communities, where millions of Texans struggled to survive in freezing temperatures, without power, heat or water.
Carlota García, who lives on Austin's East side, wasn't worried when her power went out at around 2 a.m. on Feb. 15. Like most Texans, García expected the blackout to last a few hours. But her power did not return until Feb. 22.
Austin's East side is mostly Black and Latino, a legacy of the city's 1928 master plan, in which city officials implemented policies to ensure Austin's segregation. Today, Interstate 35 separates the West side of the city from the East side.
On the morning of Feb. 15, García was enjoying the snow day. She thought she would have had power by the time she woke up, but wasn't worried when it was still out from the night before. She directed neighbors looking to charge their phones to walk a mile west, to the other side of I-35 in downtown Austin, where there was still power.
"I fully expected [our] power to return by noon," García said. "That didn't happen."
- In NCR's editorial, we say that Texas has proved to be the "perfect storm" for assessing a future in which a deregulated and underspending government fails to respond to catastrophic events, especially those caused by climate change.
- In a commentary for NCR,
University of Dallas graduate Valerie Schultz, wonders what happened to
the Catholic tradition at her alma mater, which now seems to be an
approved school for the offspring of "rad-trads," the
radical-traditional wing of Catholics who believe things like Vatican II
were a big mistake.
- At Global Sisters Report,
read a Q&A with Dominican Sr. Liz Engel, who has long been
concerned about the need to place children in adoptive families rather
than foster care. The ongoing pandemic, however, has heightened the
- ICYMI: The New Orleans archdiocese is urging Catholics to avoid the new Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, saying the vaccine is 'morally compromised' because it utilized cells with a decades-old link to an aborted fetus.