Papal Envoy Leaves for Iraq Today

Visit Comes a Day After Nomination of New Prime Minister

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The Pope’s personal envoy to Iraq, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, leaves for the war-torn country today, a day later than planned.

Due to “understandable logistical problems”, the trip had to be delayed according to Vatican sources.

The precise itinerary of his visit has not been disclosed for “security reasons”, but the former nuncio to Iraq is expected to visit Kurdistan where he will meet displaced Christians and those helping to administer aid to those in need.

He is also expected to visit the capital Baghdad.

On Monday, Iraq’s president asked Haider al-Abadi to form a new government and take over as Prime Minister. Although welcomed by the United States, the move was opposed by incumbent Prime Minister Nouri Maliki who said the nomination was a «violation of the constitution». He has said he intends to appeal.

Under Iraq’s constitution, Maliki remains Prime Minister for the next 30 days, until a new cabinet is formed. 

Abadi, the first deputy speaker of Iraq’s parliament, is a member of Maliki’s party, which in recent weeks has turned against the Prime Minister.

Militants from the Islamic State group have made substantial gains in northern Iraq in recent months, forcing tens of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities to flee their homes.

Yesterday, President Obama said there was no American military solution to the crisis, and that only an inclusive Iraqi government could unify the fight against the Islamists, the BBC reported.

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