The Vatican will not resign itself to a Middle East without Christians. Pope Francis
The four-day visit of Pope Francis to Iraq in March 2021 was filled with indications of hope, whether in meetings with Christian communities or Muslim leaders. It was the first time in history that a pope had visited Iraq, conveying not only his own desires for a brighter future but the longings of many that have left the region in recent years as well as those remaining. The Christians of Iraq, formerly Mesopotamia, once lived in some of the heartlands of the faith. For the first ten centuries after Christ, hundreds of monasteries dotted especially the northern landscape. These monasteries trained and sent monks across the land and sea trade routes of Asia to India and China in Christian witness. They also participated in Muslim society from the seventh century, translating Greek texts via Syriac into Arabic and serving in a variety of other roles.