Travelling to Iraq as representative of the Holy Father at the enthronement of the new Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, made an ecumenical visit to the Nineveh Plains on Sunday 12 September.
Accompanied by Archbishop Mitja Leskovar, Apostolic Nuncio in Iraq, and Archbishop Najeeb Michaeel, OP, Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, Cardinal Koch presided over the Holy Mass in Mosul in the Latin Church of Our Lady of the Hour (“Al–Saa’a”), one of the most important symbols of the Christian presence in the city. In his introduction to the celebration, His Eminence recalled the Prayer for the victims of war presided over by the Holy Father in Mosul last 7 March.
Cardinal Koch then visited the Hosh al–Bieaa Square (Church Square), where there are churches of different Christian traditions (Chaldean, Syriac Catholic, Syrian Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic), as well as the Syriac Catholic Church of Al Bishara (Annunciation), where he was welcomed by the parish priest, Father Emanuel Kallo.
In the afternoon Cardinal Koch visited the renowned Syrian Orthodox monastery of Mar Mattai, where he met the Abbot, Archbishop Thymothy Mosa Alshamany. At the end of the day he attended the Eucharistic celebration in the Mar Yousif Cathedral presided over by Archbishop Bashar Warda, Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil.
After a brief visit to the Maryamana hospital, His Eminence attended a dinner held in his honour by the Chaldean Archdiocese at the Catholic University of Erbil, with the participation of many guests, including Archbishop Gattas Hazim, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Baghdad.