As Pope Francis returns from Iraq to Rome on Monday after the first-ever papal visit to the Middle Eastern nation, he sent telegrams, as is customary, to heads of governments in countries the papal plane flies over en-route to Rome.
The Alitalia aircraft carrying the Pope departed Iraq around 9:54 am local time. As the Pope left the country, he sent this message to President Barham Salih.
As I leave Iraq at the conclusion of my Apostolic Journey, I once more express my deep gratitude to Your Excellency and the beloved people of Iraq for the warm welcome and generous hospitality extended to me during my stay. With fervent good wishes and prayers for the peace, unity and prosperity of the nation, I invoke upon all the copious blessings of the Most High God.
Flying over Turkey, Pope Francis addresses President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan:
As I enter Turkish airspace on my return to Rome from my Apostolic Journey to Iraq, I send greetings to Your Excellency and cordially invoke upon you and the people of Turkey the abundant blessings of the Most High God.
The Pope’s next telegram was addressed to President Katerina Sakellaropoulou:
Flying over Greece on my return to Rome from my Apostolic Journey to Iraq, I renew my greetings to Your Excellency and cordially invoke upon you and the people of the Hellenic Republic God’s choicest blessings.
Then, Pope Francis sent this message to President Ilir Meta:
Entering Albanian airspace en route to Rome following my Apostolic Journey to Iraq, I extend cordial greetings to you, with prayers that Almighty God will grant you and your fellow citizens every blessing of peace and prosperity.
Finally, upon entering Italian airspace, Pope Francis addressed President Sergio Mattarella:
On my return from my apostolic journey to Iraq, where I was able to meet Christians and representatives of other religions, bearing witness to my commitment to deepen, in a spirit of sharing, a path of dialogue and concord, I express to you, Mr. President, my cordial greetings and assure you of a special prayer for the beloved Italian Nation, to which I send my blessing.