Vatican Roundup

Vatican Roundup
Vatican releases programme for papal trip to Iraq

Pope Francis said his upcoming trip to Iraq would be an important sign of his concern for the region’s Christians, but also an important opportunity to build fraternity through interreligious dialogue.

“In our time, interreligious dialogue is an important component of the encounter between peoples and cultures. When it is viewed not in terms of compromising our own identity but as an occasion of mutual understanding and enrichment, dialogue can become an opportunity for religious leaders and the followers of different confessions, and can support the responsible efforts of political leaders to promote the common good,” the Pope told ambassadors to the Holy See February 8.

A few hours later, the Vatican released the initial schedule for the Pope’s trip to Iraq March 5-8.

Pope Francis plans to meet March 6 with Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, leader of the country’s Shiite Muslim majority and then to hold an interreligious meeting with Christians, Muslims and Yazidis on the plain of Ur, widely recognised as the homeland of the patriarch Abraham.

Throughout the trip the Pope will pay homage to the victims of war and persecution in the country.


Pope to diplomats: Pandemic can spark needed change for better world

The Covid-19 pandemic can either be a catalyst for change for the better or it will weaken a world already burdened by global crises, Pope Francis said.

The pandemic not only had a “significant effect” on people’s way of living, it also “shed light on the risks and consequences inherent in a way of life dominated by selfishness and a culture of waste”, the Pope said February 8 during his annual meeting with diplomats accredited to the Holy See.

The Covid-19 pandemic, he said, “set before us a choice: either to continue on the road we have followed until now, or to set out on a new path”.

In a nearly hourlong speech to members of the diplomatic corps, the Pope listed a series of crises “that were provoked or brought to light by the pandemic” as a way to reflect on the opportunities the global community has to build “a more humane, just, supportive and peaceful world”.

The health crisis sparked by Covid-19, he said, forced the world to confront two “unavoidable dimensions of human existence” – suffering and death.

Pandemic shows need for new model of care for elderly, academy says

A new attitude and approach toward the elderly are needed in today’s world, especially in the places and ways they are cared for when they become more fragile, said the Pontifical Academy for Life.

To make sure the needs of older people are met and their gifts appreciated, renewed attention and new solutions must be given to assisted living facilities, architectural barriers, friendships and social support networks, in-home caregivers, families and younger family members and opportunities in parishes, the academy said in a new document.

Released February 9, the 11-page “note” is titled, “Old Age: Our Future. The Elderly After the Pandemic”, and was made available in six languages at

It offers a reflection on the importance of the elderly and the challenges the older generation faces and will face, given the World Health Organization’s estimate that by 2050, the world will have 2 billion people over the age of 60, that is, one out of every five people in the world. The academy also appealed to every facet of society, including families, health care providers, city administrators and local parishes to be more attentive to and inclusive of older people.