COMMENTARY: One beautiful sign of hope is the opening of a new church in Erbil, where the first Masses were to be celebrated at Christmas.
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Pope Francis was presented with the restored liturgical text by a small delegation in the library of the Apostolic Palace a few weeks before his trip to Iraq.
The church where the pope met the local Christians was recently completely restored after it was burned by the Islamic State.
Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with the local Christians, and added that he was grateful for the courage of mothers and all women in Iraq, praying that women in Iraq will be respected, protected, and provided with opportunities.
NEWS ANALYSIS: A new report from Aid to the Church in Need makes clear Christians need to see fundamental changes now to start thriving and to stem their continuing departure from their homeland.