(Vatican News) Christmas in officially recognised as an official, annual holiday in Iraq, just months before Pope Francis is due to visit the country on his Apostolic Journey.
Christmas will be different from now on in Iraq. This year not only are the country’s Christians awaiting Pope Francis as his Apostolic Journey – set for March – draws closer, but now, for the first time ever, Christmas will be an official and fixed holiday.
On 17 October, Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, had made a proposal to Iraqi President Barham Salih to present in Parliament a bill to recognize Christmas as a public holiday throughout Iraq. On that occasion, receiving the Chaldean Patriarch at his residence, President Salih had emphasized the role of Christian communities in the reconstruction of the country, after the years of jihadist occupation of Mosul and large regions of northern Iraq.
President Salih also reiterated his commitment to facilitate the return of displaced Christians to their territories of origin, starting from Mosul and the Plain of Nineveh, which they were forced to abandon during the years of jihadist domination.