Messages of peace and blessing: Papal telegrams from flight to Iraq
As is customary, Pope Francis has sent telegrams to heads of state of countries the papal plane flies over as it heads to Iraq, where the Holy Father will be making an Apostolic Visit from 5-8 March.
Departing from Rome at 7.45 local time, Pope Francis first sent a message to President Sergio Mattarella:
As I leave Rome to go to Iraq, a pilgrim of peace and brotherhood among peoples, I am pleased to address to you, Mr. President, my respectful greeting, which I accompany with fervent wishes of serenity and prosperity for the dear Italian people.
The Pope's next telegram is addressed to Greek President, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, as he flies over Greece:
As my Apostolic Journey to Iraq takes me over Greek airspace, I send warm greetings to your Excellency and pray that God Almighty will bestow upon you and your fellow citizens his blessings of unity, peace and prosperity.
Then flying over Cyprus, The Holy Father addresses President Nicos Anastasiades:
Entering Cypriot airspace on my Apostolic Journey to Iraq, I extend cordial greetings to your Excellency and the people of Cyprus, with fervent prayers that God will bless you all with harmony and peace.
Addressing Palestinian President, Mahmous Abbas, Pope Francis wrote:
As I fly over Palestinian territory on my Apostolic Journey to Iraq, I extend cordial greetings to Your Excellency and your fellow citizens, and I pray that the Most High God will bless all Palestinians with peace and well-being.
The Papal plane then flew over Israel, where Pope Francis sent a telegram to President Reuven Rivlin:
Entering Israeli airspace on my Apostolic Journey to Iraq, I send warm greetings to you and the people of the nation, praying that Almighty God will bless all with his gifts of harmony and peace.
The final state to receive a telegram from Pope Francis was Jordan, where the Holy Father wrote to His Majesty Abdullah II, before arriving in Iraq:
I offer cordial greetings to Your Majesty, the members of the Royal Family and the people of Jordan as I fly over Jordanian airspace on my Apostolic Journey to Iraq. Upon the entire nation, I invoke the abundant blessings of the Most High.