Christians across Iraq are eagerly anticipating Pope Francis' planned March 5-8 visit to their country, the pontiff's first sojourn abroad since 2019.
Although Christians represent a small minority of the Iraqi population, perhaps numbering 1 million out of a total population of 39 million, they trace their lineage to the earliest decades of the faith.
NCR has published portions of recent interviews with five Iraqi Christians in Baghdad and Erbil, focusing on their hopes for the papal visit.
- Keep up with all of NCR's coverage of Pope Francis' trip to Iraq here.
Associates used to visiting the motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, Ohio, found something unexpected in March 2020: They were locked out.
Chanin Wilson, director of associates for the congregation, said the lockdown — like those imposed at convents around the world because of the coronavirus pandemic — had to be done to protect the sisters inside. But it was still difficult for the associates.
"It was very new for a lot of them, especially those who live near the motherhouse and were used to going to meet the sisters or have lunch with the sisters," Wilson said. "It was just such a gathering point. It came as a shock to them."
Associates — also known as oblates, cojourners or covenant companions — have a spiritual connection to the sisters of their congregations that sets them apart from other volunteers or friends. But how can communities maintain that spiritual connection during a pandemic, when sisters and associates cannot physically be near one another?
- Twenty-one priests of the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky, said in a statement that people of faith have a particular duty to "help, support, and defend" LGBT youth who are at heightened risk of suicide, homelessness, bullying and rejection.
- The Vatican's worship congregation asked Catholic bishops
to make "prudent decisions" about how their communities should
celebrate Easter this year given the continuing danger of spreading the
- EarthBeat has launched a regular series of Reflections on the Care of Creation during Lent. The first dispatch focuses on wildfires and other signs that our planet is becoming a hothouse.