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Pope "committed" to visiting Iraq next year

Number: 11499    Date: 09-Nov-99    Type: U    Code:

Papal Trip to Iraq Postponed Until 2000

VATICAN ( -- Pope John Paul II will not travel to Iraq this
year, the
Vatican has revealed.

The papal trip to Iraq-- during which the Holy Father hopes to visit Ur of the
Chaldeans, the ancient home of the patriarch Abraham-- will not take place
until the
end of January, 2000, at the earliest, Vatican officials have told
reporters. The trip was
originally scheduled for December, but tensions between the Holy See and the
government of Saddam Hussein brought a halt to the preparations.

Vatican sources also indicate that the papal trip to Iraq, when it takes
place, will
probably not be joined with a trip to Egypt for a visit to Mt. Sinai. Such
a two-legged
voyage had been contemplated for January, but the increasingly fragile
health of the
Holy Father has led planners to reconsider those plans, in order to avoid
taxing the
Pope's stamina and exposing him to the harsh Iraqi winter.

However, Pope John Paul remains committed to making the trip to Iraq. Father
Roberto Tucci, the Jesuit priest who has been regularly involved in
preparations for
papal voyages, will travel to Iraq later this month to resume the planning

Chris Cole
Southwark Justice and Peace Office
Cathedral Clergy House
Westminster Bridge Road
London SE1 7HY

0171 928 9742

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