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Pope returns from Iraq visit, criticises treatment of women

Pope returns from Iraq visit, criticises treatment of women

dpa
Baghdad
On his return flight from Baghdad, Pope Francis reviewed his four-day trip to Iraq and criticised the treatment of women.
The plane with the Vatican delegation that had been vaccinated against COVID-19 and more than 70 journalists landed in Rome on Monday afternoon.
Speaking to journalists during the flight, the 84-year-old denounced the treatment of women on the occasion of International Women’s Day, which fell on Monday this year.
The head of the Catholic Church said he could not believe it when he was shown lists on which women were offered for sale, just as the terrorist militia Islamic State had done with Yezidis.
Human trafficking was taking place everywhere and also in the centre of Europe, he said. In Rome, he had met women who had been exploited and abused.
“Women are more courageous than men, that’s the way it is,” the Argentinian pontiff noted.
The tight programme with journeys across Iraq had been exhausting for him, the pope said.
The ruins of houses of worship in the city of Mosul, destroyed during the war against Islamic State, and the meeting with the highest Shiite cleric in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, left a great impression on him, he continued.
The meeting with the 90-year-old grand ayatollah had done him “good in his soul,” Francis said. Al-Sistani was a prudent and wise man and very respectful at the meeting behind closed doors in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf, he said.
“He usually never stands up during visits, but he stood up twice with me,” the pope said.
A document had not emerged at the meeting, as in Abu Dhabi with the grand imam of Egypt in 2019. At the time, the declaration was worked on in secret for more than six months in advance, Francis revealed.

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