After almost a week of dredging, drigging and tugging — and with some help from the moon — salvage teams yesterday freed the giant container ship that had been stuck in the Suez Canal, one of the world’s most important shipping lanes.
As a result, traffic has resumed for the hundreds of ships waiting on both ends of the canal. And while estimates have varied wildly, the delay is also expensive. “The disruption has caused the canal authorities in Egypt losses of $95 million in revenue,” The Times’s Peter Goodman told me.
And even though the ship is free, the disruption isn’t over.
“It’s not just like flipping a switch,” Vivian Yee, the Times’s Cairo bureau chief, told me. Now that the ship is out of the way, the backlog will take at least a few days, maybe even weeks, to resolve.
High winds from a sandstorm caused the ship, the Ever Given, to turn sideways in the canal and get stuck, its operators said. But shipping experts have suggested that while the wind probably had a role in the crisis, human error might have, too.
few extra inches of tidal flow and gave workers the boost they needed to set the ship free.
Not a normal ship
It’s rare that a maritime disruption makes international news. But this was not your average mishap. For one, the Suez Canal isn’t like other waterways. “It is a vital channel linking the factories of Asia to the affluent customers of Europe, as well as a major conduit for oil,” Peter writes.
And the Ever Given is one of the world’s biggest container ships. “From a distance, it’s hard to comprehend how big it is,” Vivian told us. “From land, all the containers on top look like Legos — and then you realize each one of those Legos is 20 or 40 feet long.”
a backlog of goods sitting in factories, waiting to be put in boxes, Vivian says.
It took 10 years of hard labor — during which tens of thousands of Egyptian workers died — to build the canal in the 19th century.
For more: This is how giant container ships are built.
THE LATEST NEWS
The prosecution argued that Chauvin acted with excessive force, and played a video that showed him kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. “You can believe your eyes that it’s homicide,” a prosecutor told the jury.
The defense argued that Floyd’s death was caused by underlying medical conditions and a drug overdose, and urged jurors to consider evidence beyond the video.
This two-minute video shows key moments from the first day of the trial.
Other Big Stories
After the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, does the U.S. need a domestic terrorism law?
Yes: Making domestic terrorism a federal crime would help law enforcement punish violent extremists, says Elizabeth Neumann, a former Trump administration official. It would also deter future violence, Mary McCord and Jason Blazakis write in Lawfare.
No: “The problem is not lack of laws. It is a lack of will” to pursue extremists using existing law, the A.C.L.U.’s Hina Shamsi argues. And some progressives fear that the government could exploit the law to limit Americans’ rights or target minority communities, Vox’s Nicole Narea explains.
Makeover: The beauty industry has entered a phase of total pop-culture domination. Celebrities, social media stars and lifestyle influencers are changing the way the sell works.
Lives Lived: A fierce advocate for New York’s disabled, Edith Prentiss fought to make the city she loved more navigable for everyone. She died at 69.
suffered more during the pandemic than most other U.S. restaurants.
Their business began declining sooner — in January of last year, when news broke that a new virus was circulating in Wuhan, China. The restaurants have also had to cope with a rise in anti-Asian racism — “vandalized, robbed, attacked online in racist Yelp reviews,” as The Washington Post reported. Xi’an Famous Foods in New York began closing early after two employees were punched in the face while commuting to and from work.
Grace Young, a decorated author of cookbooks, is worried that traditional Chinatowns, like New York’s and San Francisco’s, will never recover from the pandemic, and she has spent months trying to call attention to the problem. “When you step into those restaurants, you are stepping back in time, and it’s a privilege,” Young said on a recent episode of “The Splendid Table,” a food podcast.
For anyone who wants to help Chinese restaurants, Francis Lam, the host of “The Splendid Table,” offered a suggestion: “If you can, order yourself some Chinese takeout. Get extra. Leftovers are your friend.” In The Times, Bonnie Tsui has more tips for supporting restaurants. — David Leonhardt
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
creamy asparagus pasta to the next level.
What to Watch
See a short opera film starring the drag queen Sasha Velour, a “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner and lip-syncing legend.
Meanwhile, on TikTok
Young artists are bypassing art schools and student loans, quitting their day jobs and pursuing careers as full-time artists on TikTok. But what happens when viewership plummets and copycats arrive?
Bernadette Bartels Murphy, a rare woman on Wall Street in the 1950s whose work as a trader helped legitimize a once-derided approach to anticipating market trends, making her a respected voice in the financial world and giving her a platform on television, died on March 3 in Nyack, N.Y. She was 86.
Her death was confirmed by her niece Mary Ann Bartels. Ms. Murphy died at her niece’s home.
Ms. Murphy began her career at the investment bank Ladenburg Thalmann & Company as a secretary — one of the few roles then available to women in the financial industry. But over time she became a trader and analyst and found a national audience as a regular panelist on Louis Rukeyser’s long-running “Wall Street Week,” a public television side gig of hers for 25 years.
Toiling as a secretary, Ms. Murphy found that it was the work of the traders on her desk that interested her more. She began studying the movements of stocks and the overall market as a way to anticipate future trends, an approach known as technical analysis.
At the time, that method of anticipating market movements was looked down on by traditionalists, who favored an approach called fundamental analysis: forecasting a shift in a stock price by gleaning the intrinsic value of a company and its shares. They referred, often derisively, to technical analysts as “chartists,” for the graphs and data tables they pored over to make their forecasts.
a 1992 interview with an industry magazine. “In those days, technical analysis was not considered an acceptable discipline, not in a conservative firm.”
To learn more about the business, she took classes at the New York Institute of Finance and began creating her own charts. She used the trading floor around her as her training ground, soaking up information on the interactions between the various markets her firm worked in, like corporate and municipal bonds, equities and trade orders from overseas. (After leaving Ladenburg, she went on to work for two more Wall Street firms.)
She also started sharing her ideas with co-workers and industry contacts in a newsletter, “This Is What I Think,” which became her calling card, prompting clients of her firm to ask her bosses for her views on trades they were considering. By the early 1970s, she was monitoring stock portfolios for customers and sharing her forecasts with them.
Her breakout moment came in 1973, when a market crash and global economic crisis sent stocks tumbling in a 21-month-long swoon.
“My readings were very accurate,” Ms. Murphy said in “Women of the Street: Making It on Wall Street — The World’s Toughest Business” (1998), by Sue Herera. She anticipated, for example, a sharp plunge in a popular group of stocks known as the “nifty 50,” which included household names like Coca-Cola and Polaroid.
became a managing director at Bank of America.
Ms. Bartels recalled a story Ms. Murphy often told. As a child, she said, she stopped at a waterside arcade on City Island and put a coin in a vending machine to get her horoscope. “It said her element was fire, her color was red, and that ‘you are an Aries, the ram — a trailblazer and pioneer,’” Ms. Bartels said. “She told us that story so many times, and she really lived by that every day.”
ROME — In an effort to contain costs and save jobs amid a slump in tourist dollars and donations as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis has ordered across-the-board pay cuts for the cardinals and other higher-ranking clerics working in the Vatican.
Cardinals will see their income trimmed by 10 percent, according to a decree published Wednesday. The superiors of Vatican departments will have their salaries reduced by 8 percent, while 3 percent cuts will be applied to upper-level priests and nuns. A two-year salary freeze has been imposed on other employees at higher pay grades.
The pandemic has “negatively influenced all sources of income for the Holy See and Vatican City State,” Francis wrote in an apostolic letter. “A sustainable economic future requires today, among other decisions, adopting measures that also concern employee salaries.”
The cuts, which go into effect on April 1, affect only the employees of the Holy See, Vatican City and associated institutions, including the Vicariate of Rome. They will not apply to Vatican personnel who can prove that they cannot sustain the costs of personal medical care or that of close family members.
an interview with the Vatican’s news portal two weeks ago. He said that cost-cutting had reduced travel, overtime and meeting expenses and had led to the postponement of renovations and some purchases. But the Vatican has not cut jobs.
“Pope Francis insists that saving money does not have to mean laying off employees; he is very sensitive to the plight of families,” he said.
The Holy See’s income comes from real estate management, investments and donations. Vatican City State has a separate budget and gets part of its revenue from the Vatican Museums, which had 6.7 million visitors in 2019, according to The Art Newspaper. The museums were open on and off last year because of the pandemic. Of the 1.3 million visitors last year, a million came before the national lockdown started in early March 2020.
“The expenses budgeted for 2021 are the lowest in the recent history of the Holy See, but the savings have been made without decreasing the service to the pope’s mission and defending salaries and jobs for employees,” Father Guerrero Alves said. “We need the support of the faithful.”
Jessica McClintock, a fashion designer whose romantic, lacy confections dressed generations of women for their weddings and proms, died on Feb. 16 at her home in San Francisco. She was 90.
The cause was congestive heart failure, said her sister, Mary Santoro.
In 1969, Ms. McClintock was a newly divorced mother and had been teaching science and music to sixth graders in Cupertino, Calif., when she invested $5,000 in a San Francisco dress business called Gunne Sax. (In creating the name, the founders, Eleanor Bailey and Carol Miller, had riffed on the idea of a “sexy gunny sack,” according to Vogue magazine.)
Soon after, Ms. McClintock became the sole owner, designer and saleswoman. She had no design training, but she could sew.
Inspired by those she called San Francisco’s “flower children,” she began making calico, lace and beribboned pastiches known as granny dresses. It was a style — a little bit Victorian, a little bit prairie — that hippies in the Haight-Ashbury section had popularized by putting together the wares of vintage clothing stores.
Dorothy Rodham, said no way: She had to wear something new for her wedding.
Representative Jackie Speier, who serves California’s 14th District, in the Bay Area. Ms. McClintock designed a wedding dress for her. (Ms. Speier called her “the fashion designer for Democrats” because of her inclusive price points, though Ms. McClintock was a registered Republican.)
Vanna White, who has made a career out of elegantly flipping the letters on the game show “Wheel of Fortune” clad in satiny sheaths, did so for a time in Jessica McClintock gowns.
But Ms. McClintock’s bread and butter was also in gussying up young women for their proms and quinceañeras and even elementary school graduations, particularly in the heyday of the 70s, as they danced to Fleetwood Mac or Peter Frampton, their hair done in Dorothy Hamill-style bobs.
As the decades marched along, so did Ms. McClintock’s styles, from pale Victorians and Great Gatsby-esque satins in the 1970s to poofy silk taffeta in the ’80s to more streamlined dresses in iridescent silk in the ’90s and beyond.
In 1999, when her business, a private company, turned 30, sales were at $140 million, according to Women’s Wear Daily. She operated 26 stores around the country, marketed a fragrance, Jessica, and had licensing agreements for handbags, jewelry, china, eyeglasses, bedding and home furnishings.
signed an agreement with Asian Immigrant Women Advocates, a community organization, to promote fair labor practices and establish an education fund for garment workers.
In addition to her sister, Ms. McClintock is survived by her son. Her longtime partner, Ben Golluber, who was chief financial officer of the company, died in 1998.
Ms. McClintock retired from the day to day management of her company in 2013, only to return a year later.
Since the early 1980s, the company headquarters were in a commercial building in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood, but Ms. McClintock sold the space in about 2016 and thereafter ran the business from her home office.
She lived in a Queen Anne Victorian house in Pacific Heights, which she bought from the filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. With a decorator’s help she turned it into a romantic fantasy, with Venetian chandeliers, billowing pink satin curtains, inlaid marble floors and Aubusson carpets — just the right backdrop for the Old World fashions she favored.
“I have a romantic feeling about life,” Ms. McClintock told a reporter in 2007. “I like Merchant-Ivory movies and candlelight and beautiful rooms. I like the patina of age.”
ROME — The Vatican said on Monday that priests could not bless same-sex unions, calling any such blessing “not licit.”
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, issued the judgment in response to questions raised by some pastors and parishes that sought to be more welcoming and inclusive of gay couples.
In an explicatory note signed by the prefect of the Congregation, Cardinal Luis F. Ladaria, the congregation said that Pope Francis had “given his consent to the decision.”
The ruling said that the church should be welcoming toward gay people, but not their unions. Catholic teaching holds that marriage between a man and woman is part of God’s plan, and since gay unions are not intended to be part of that plan, they cannot be blessed by the church.
should have legal protection, but only in the civil sphere, and he has continued to oppose gay marriage.
ERBIL, Iraq — Pope Francis concluded on Monday a trip to Iraq that made history with every step and demonstrated that Iraq, still beset by violence and recovering from decades of war and mismanagement, was able to pull off a visit that would have posed a challenge for any country.
“It’s huge. It’s huge,” President Barham Salih told The New York Times about the importance of the visit after seeing Francis off at Baghdad airport. “I am not underestimating the challenges facing Iraq, but the visit by the pope was a remarkable affirmation of the essence of these values of tolerance and coexistence that are deeply rooted in Iraqi society,” said Mr. Salih, who is Kurdish.
For Iraqi officials, the visit was an affirmation of the country’s importance in the region, after years of isolation by Sunni Arab countries because of Iraq’s Shiite majority leadership. It was also a support for leaders who have expressed concern about how sectarian and political divisions have weakened the country.
The stops on the 84-year-old pontiff’s four-day trip illustrated the hollowing out of the historic religious diversity in a land seen as the birthplace of monotheistic religions; a country badly scarred by sectarian violence and the legacy of the Islamic State’s brutal takeover of parts of northern Iraq and Syria.
Alan Kurdi, the 3-year-old Syrian boy killed when his family’s rubber dinghy capsized between Turkey and Greece. The photo of the small boy’s body washed up on a beach in Greece helped focus attention on the plight of refugees and migrants desperate to reach Europe.
Iraqi officials said they hoped to start an ongoing interreligious dialogue, but acknowledged the difficulties ahead.
“The pope, he cannot make a miracle ,” said Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, the Iraqi Christian leader whom France promoted in 2018. “We sows the seeds, but we have to water them, and God will bless them and let them grow.”
The pope’s trip was intended to underline the tragic costs of failing to achieve that fraternity. On Sunday, he visited Mosul, once the capital of the Islamic State’s caliphate, and now a devastated monument to the destruction wrought by the militants, with buildings and churches reduced to rubble, families decimated and traumatized, a once vibrant Christian population long gone.
He said the ruins had left him “speechless,” and added that as he stood in front of the obliterated Catholic church, as well as other demolished churches and mosques, he thought “I couldn’t believe” such cruelty existed.
Francis, who has made mercy a cornerstone of his pontificate, said the thing that most moved him were remarks by a woman in Qaraqosh, the northern Iraq town with the country’s largest Christian population, who talked about how she had lost her children to the Islamic State, but nevertheless had sought forgiveness for the militants.
The Vatican expressed great satisfaction with Francis’ trip, in which he made bold symbolic gestures, but also came through on concrete action, including a statement of support for Iraq’s Christians by Ayatollah Sistani.
Still, there is a question of whether the pope’s trip will have any real and lasting impact.
“You don’t resolve the problems of a country like Iraq overnight and with a bit of ecumenism,” Archbishop Gallagher said. He called it “a significant contribution” in which the pope “has done something, it’s worked out, it’s overcome lots of obstacles — and I think that sends a strong message.”
“In a very spiritual dimension,” Archbishop Gallagher added, the pope is saying “No, we shouldn’t just abdicate our responsibility or contribution. We can all do something.”
But there are also those who worry the pope, in causing crowds during his visit, had done something he may one day regret.
Pope Francis’s three-day visit to Iraq was a boon to the diminishing Christian community, a boost for the beleaguered Iraqi government — and a possible health hazard, as many participants found social distancing impossible and disregarded masks.
The trip, the first papal visit to the country,came at a vulnerable time. Iraq reported record daily highs of more than 5,000 infections this week, and its leaders have implemented curfews. The country’s vaccination campaign began only last week, and many Iraqis are wary of government health programs, so few in the population of nearly 40 million have received even a single shot.
The pope and his entourage were vaccinated, and the Vatican had dismissed fears that large events during the trip might spread the virus, saying that precautions would be taken to minimize risk.
But Iraqis are generally unaccustomed to wearing masks and many live and work in crowded conditions, so they are also unused to social distancing. When they gathered in large numbers to see the pope,mask-wearing was far from universal.
The virus is far more easily transmitted indoors than outdoors, but most Iraqis wrongly believe that there is no outdoor transmission at all. In some cities where the pope appeared, thousands of people jammed together in the streets to await his arrival. At services, choirs were generally unmasked.
At a Mass in the town of Qaraqosh, about half the congregation was unmasked. Another service, on Sunday, was held in a stadium in Erbil, the Iraqi Kurdistan regional capital. Church officials had said that about 5,000 tickets would be distributed, but Kurdish television reported that about 10,000 people attended.
In the streets of Ankawa, the Christian enclave of Erbil, thousands of people holding flowers and olive branches stood behind plastic tape strung between barriers, hoping to catch a glimpse of the pope as he drove to the stadium. Musicians played drums and flutes as children danced on the sidewalk.
The pope himself was sometimes masked, sometimes not. He did not wear one when first arriving in Baghdad.Photos and a brief video of a meeting with one of Iraq’s most revered and vulnerable residents, 90-year-old Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, showed neither the pope nor the Shiite cleric masked.
Ayatollah Sistani has not been vaccinated, with his office saying he wants to make sure others have access first. He has declared the vaccine religiously permissible.
In an extraordinary moment on the last full day of the first papal trip to Iraq, Francis went to Mosul, which was seized by the Islamic State seven years ago and declared the capital of its caliphate. The pope directly addressed the suffering, persecution and sectarian conflict that have torn the nation apart.
“The real identity of this city is that of harmonious coexistence between people of different backgrounds and cultures,” Francis said in a public square surrounded by the ruins of four Christian churches. Posters that read “Mosul Welcomes You” covered walls pockmarked with bullet holes.
The pope spoke of “our conviction that fraternity is more durable than fratricide, that hope is more powerful than death, that peace more powerful than war.” “This conviction speaks with greater eloquence than the passing voices of hatred and violence,” he continued, “and it can never be silenced by the blood spilled by those who pervert the name of God to pursue paths of destruction.”
The visit, which began on Friday, is Francis’s first trip since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The pope has sought to protect an ancient but battered Christian community and build relations with the Muslim world. On Saturday, he met with the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the revered Shiite cleric. We captured key moments of the trip in these images.
a stadium in the northern city of Erbil. The 84-year-old pope and his entourage have been vaccinated against Covid-19, but Iraq’s vaccination campaign began only last week.
the broadest reopening of Israel’s economy since the first coronavirus lockdown began a year ago.
Under Israel’s “Back to Life” program, restaurants still have restrictions on occupancy and social distancing, and indoor seating is available only to Green Pass holders — people over 16 who are fully vaccinated.
latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
As countries jostle to secure enough vaccine doses to end the Covid-19 pandemic, a second scramble is unfolding for syringes. A manufacturer in India sees a big opportunity.
The U.S. Senate passed its version of the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill on Saturday. The measure now goes back to the House of Representatives, which must approve the Senate’s changes before it can go to President Biden’s desk.
one of the most anticipated, and most heavily spun, television interviews in recent memory.
Was Meghan the victim of a cold, unwelcoming family that isolated her after she married Harry and is now defaming her? Or was she a Hollywood diva who mistreated her staff?
The two-hour interview will be broadcast by CBS in the U.S. on Sunday evening and on ITV in Britain on Monday. Here’s what you need to know about Meghan, Harry and Oprah. We will have live coverage of the interview, so check back on our home page.
six places dependent on tourism, like Apollo Bay, have adapted.
Here’s what else is happening
Microsoft hack: The company said businesses and government agencies in the U.S. that use a Microsoft email service had been compromised in an aggressive hacking campaign probably sponsored by the Chinese government. The number of victims is estimated to be in the tens of thousands and could rise.
Philippines rights: Karapatan, a left-leaning human rights organization, accused the country’s security forces of killing nine activists in coordinated raids on their homes and offices in four provinces.
“Nomadland” director: Days after Chloé Zhao won a Golden Globe for the acclaimed film, she faced a backlash in China over her past remarks about the country, where she was born. References to the film’s scheduled April 23 release in China were removed from prominent movie websites.
Tehran detention: House arrest orders have been lifted forNazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman detained in Tehran since 2016, but she faces new charges and her return to London remains uncertain.
receiving his first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine on Saturday in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala. The 85-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader used the moment to encourage people to take the vaccine, saying it would prevent “some serious problem.”
What we’re reading: This National Geographic article about people who play music with instruments made of ice. Scroll down for the video, so you can hear ice music’s crisp sound.
Now, a break from the news
breakfast bars with oats and coconut are perfect for a breakfast on the run or an afternoon nibble.
Listen: These podcasts are for people who know that they should be thinking more about their personal finances but aren’t even sure what the right questions are.
Do: Role-playing games, like Dungeons & Dragons, encourage players to create a story collaboratively as they play. Here’s how to play the games online.
Start off your week on the right foot with our At Home collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.
the renewed love affair of New Yorkers with Central Park. Here’s an excerpt.
Central Park has long provided a refuge from the anxieties and stresses of daily life, perhaps never more so than during the coronavirus siege and four long years of increasingly toxic politics. New Yorkers who visited the park every day, as well as those who had long taken it for granted, felt a renewed love for this amazing rectangle of green in the heart of the big city.
P.S. • We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is the first of a two-part series on President Biden’s approach to Saudi Arabia. • Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Z as in ___(five letters). You can find all our puzzles here. • The Times has a new team that is going to expand our live coverage, including Andrea Kannapell, who has been the editor of the Global Briefings, including this one, since their inception.
MOSUL, Iraq — After the Islamic State took control of Mosul seven years ago and declared it the capital of its caliphate, the terrorist group sought to strike fear deep into the West by vowing to conquer Rome.
But with the Islamic State pushed from the city, it was Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, who on Sunday came to Mosul. In an extraordinary moment on the last full day of the first papal trip to Iraq, Francis went to the wounded heart of the country, directly addressing the suffering, persecution and sectarian conflict that have torn the nation apart.
“Now Rome has come here,” Ghazwan Yousif Baho, a local priest who invited Francis to Mosul, said as he awaited the pope’s arrival. “He will bring his blessing to spread peace and brotherhood. It’s the beginning of a new era.”
Francis is the first to make the trip. In doing so, he has sought to protect an ancient but battered and shrunken Christian community, build relations with the Muslim world and reassert himself on the global stage after being grounded for more than a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
ISIS expelled those who remained. Only about 350 Christians have returned since ISIS was driven out in 2017 — almost all of them to the more prosperous east side, which suffered far less damage.
“I especially welcome, then, your invitation to the Christian community to return to Mosul,” said Francis, who has praised young volunteers, Muslim and Christian, working to rebuild churches and mosques.
“I am sure it will be a first step for them to come back,” said Anas Zeyad, a Muslim engineer who is part of an international project to rebuild the churches. He said that Christians who had fled the city “have memories, they have Muslim friends, they have homes here.”
After praying for the dead, and for the repentance of their killers, Francis, who suffers from sciatica and limps heavily, took a golf cart to the Syriac Catholic church that ISIS had used as a courthouse. On the way, he passed a cartoon mural of three girls at play, their faces blacked out. ISIS forbid depictions of people and animals.
“We were living here in Mosul, all together, Christians, Muslims,” said Rana Bazzoiee, 37, a pediatric surgeon, who fled Mosul in ahead of the ISIS takeover in 2014. She said that, while a semblance of normalcy had returned to the city, the pope’s visit could improve things further. “Why not?” she said. “We lived together for a long time in Mosul.”
In his whirlwind trip, Francis has sought to make significant progress in tightening bonds between his church and the Muslim world. On Saturday, the country’s most powerful and reclusive Shiite, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, met with the pope and released a statement stressing that Christian citizens deserved to “live like all Iraqis in security and peace and with full constitutional rights.”
Francis called for brotherhood at a meeting of minorities on the desert plains of Ur, what tradition holds is the homeland of Abraham, revered by Christians, Jews and Muslims alike.
Two earlier popes had tried and failed to visit Christians in Iraq, but it was Francis, who as pontiff has prioritized reaching out to the marginalized and forgotten, who succeeded.
On Sunday afternoon, the faithful in Qaraqosh, the largest town of the Ninevah Plains that are Iraq’s Christian heartland, thanked him for it. They lined the streets outside the al-Tahira Syriac Catholic Church, clapping and ululating as his vehicle approached.
Residents of Qaraqosh have spent the past three months preparing the town for the pope’s arrival and the past four years repairing the damage done by ISIS. For many, Francis’ visit was a chance to celebrate the community’s survival.
A young priest holding a scarf danced in the street near the church while a group of white-robed nuns on a rooftop held brightly colored balloons. Women and girls wearing traditional Christian dress, with brightly colored wraps embroidered with scenes of church and home life, waved olive branches.
Hundreds crowded into the church, prompting one Vatican official to complain to Iraqi organizers that there was not sufficient space between people in the pews. Masks were often disregarded. But the coronavirus seemed the least of attendants’ worries.
Qaraqosh, just 20 miles from Mosul, was overtaken by the Islamic State in 2014 and held for three years before being liberated by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces. Its 50,000 residents fled when ISIS arrived, and those who returned found burned and looted houses and badly damaged churches. About half the pre-2014 population never came back.
ISIS had turned many homes into car bomb factories — including that of Edison Stefo, a school principal who was among the parishioners waiting in the church.
He said he hoped the pope’s visit would encourage Christians to return.
“This is like a dream,” Mr. Stefo said. “We feel like he is one of us — that he is from our area and knows what we went through.”
The pope ended the day by celebrating Mass at a stadium in Erbil. In the days leading up to the visit, as coronavirus infections spiked in Iraq and concerns grew about potential crowds, the Vatican insisted that all events would be socially distanced and safe.
But priests organized trips to the Mass, packing buses with parishioners. More than 10,000 people, many in white hats emblazoned with the pope’s face, entered the stadium. They hummed along with chants and expressed joy and relief that a pope had finally come to find them.
Calling himself “a pilgrim in your midst,” Francis concluded the last public event of his trip, which ends on Monday when he returns to Rome. “Today,” he said. “I can see at first hand that the church in Iraq is alive.”
Sangar Khaleel contributed reporting from Erbil, Iraq.