The President of the Republic of Iraq, Barham Salih, attended a mass at St. Joseph's cathedral in Baghdad on Thursday, December 24, 2020. During his visit, he gave a speech congratulating Iraqi Christians on their annual Christmas holiday, and wished them and all other Iraqis a happy new year.
In his speech, President Salih spoke about the long history of Christianity in Iraq and the country as the cradle of civilization. He also mentioned the planned visit of Pope Francis in early 2021 and how, over recent years, Iraq's Christians have had to deal with many challenges. He emphasized how important it was for all Iraqis, no matter their religion, to be able to live a life of dignity, free of persecution, in Iraq.
Iraq is a diverse country, with many religions and ethnicities, he said. Without that diversity, Iraq would lose an important strength.
President Salih then went on to speak about how, in order to ensure this a good life for all Iraqis, it was important to continue the fight against both extremism and corruption. Both of these scourges impacted all Iraqis, no matter who they were or what they believed. The best way to combat them was genuine structural reform, something that had been called for by many Iraqis and more than once, President Salih said.
President Salih ended by expressing optimism and hope for the year ahead, despite the many challenges Iraq was facing.