As Pope Francis flew to Iraq on Friday, he sent messages to the heads of states of all the countries that the papal plane crossed.
His first was for the Italian president, followed by the leaders of Greece, Cyprus, Palestine, Israel and Jordan.
Pope Francis’ message to Italy
As he departed Rome at 7.45am local time, he messaged Italian 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.
Pope Francis’ message to Greece
The Pope's next telegram was to Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou:
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.
Pope Francis’ message to Cyprus
Then flying over Cyprus, the Pope addressed 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.
Pope Francis’ message to Palestine
Addressing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Pope Francis said:
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.
Pope Francis’ message to Israel
As the Papal plane flew over Israel, 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.
Pope Francis’ message to Jordan
The final telegram was to Jordan, where the Pope wrote to King 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.