Pope Francis is scheduled to pay a visit to Iraqi Kurdistan at the invitation of Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, Kurdistan24 reported on Monday.
The pope’s set to arrive in the region on March 7 when he will meet with Prime Minister Barzani, Iraqi Kurdistan President Nechivan Barzani, and former president Masoud Barzani. According to the outlet, he is due to conduct a ritual at the Franso Hariri Stadium in Erbil, where thousands of Christians will attend.
This would not be the first meeting between Francis or Iraqi Kurdish officials. In February 2020, Masrour Barzani met with Francis at the Vatican as part of a European tour. Masoud Barzani met with Francis in 2014 and his predecessor Pope Benedict before him in 2011 as well.
Iraqi Kurdistan offered protection for a number of Christians fleeing the Islamic State’s (ISIS) persecution and the Pope previously told former President Barzani that he was “the representative of tolerance and coexistence”.