Amid pandemic, pope goes to Iraq to rally fading Christians

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BAGHDAD (AP) — Pope Francis is heading to Iraq to urge the country’s dwindling number of Christians to stay put and help rebuild the country after years of war and persecution, brushing aside the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns to honor its martyrs.  Iraqis were keen to welcome him and the global attention his visit will bring, with banners and posters hanging high in central Baghdad and billboards depicting Francis with the slogan “We are all Brothers” decorating the main thoroughfare.  Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein described the visit as a historic meeting between the “minaret and the bells,” saying Iraqis were eager to welcome Francis’ “message of peace and tolerance.” 

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