Rome Newsroom, Feb 15, 2021 / 06:30 am
The Iraqi government has announced new COVID-19 restrictions, including the closure of all places of worship, less than three weeks before Pope Francis’ scheduled trip to Iraq.
On Feb. 14 the health ministry of Iraq wrote that the government will impose a national curfew, in addition to the closure of all schools, restaurants, mosques and other places of worship.
These measures come in the weeks leading up to Pope Francis’ March 5-8 trip to Iraq. The pope’s schedule includes a Mass at the Chaldean Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Baghdad on March 6 and a visit to the Syriac Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Bakhdida March 7.
Most of the new coronavirus measures will go into force from Feb. 18 until March 4, but the closure of places of worship is “until further notice,” according to the Iraqi government’s website. The national curfew will remain in place until at least March 8.
The Vatican’s ambassador in Baghdad, Archbishop Mitja Leskovar, met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Feb. 14 to discuss the preparations for the pope’s visit.