On Pope Francis' Flight to Iraq with 74 Journalists from 15 Countries, He Receives a Journalism Award + Telegrams to Heads of State - VIDEO


[5-8 MARCH 2021]


Papal flight
Friday, March 5, 2021

During the four and a half hour flight, Pope Francis greeted the journalists travelling with him on the Alitalia A330 airplane. "I am happy to resume my travels," he said.  He thanked those present for their work and their presence. The director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, was by the Pope's side after 15 months non-travel due to coronavirus restrictions. He thanked Pope Francis "for his willingness to make a pilgrimage to Iraq". Also mentioned was Pope St John Paul II who wished to visit Iraq and the fact that he was never able to do so.  Bruni explained that there were "74 journalists from 15 countries" on the papal flight. During the exchange, the Pope was presented with a "Maria Grazia Cutuli" Italian National Journalism Award 2021, on the twentieth anniversary of her death in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. On the certificate, Pope Francis is described as a "Special Envoy" who "wearing out his shoes, travels the streets of the world in the name of Faith, Fraternity and Peace." Pope Francis also sent telegrams to heads of State as he passed through their airspace - see full text below.

Text from In-Flight - Bruni

Good morning, Your Holiness, good morning to you all. After many months we are back on a papal flight, 15 months. In the meantime, habits have changed and this image itself tells us [the journalists and the Pope have masks]: we must all respect health measures.

We thank you, Your Holiness, for your willingness to become a pilgrim in Iraq, the land of Abraham, with its people, its Christians. You said a few days ago : "You cannot disappoint a people twice", and we thank you for the willingness to be accompanied by a large group of journalists: it was not obvious, we are 74 from 15 countries, and 14 journalists come for the first time on a papal flight. We await the gestures and words of these days and in the meantime we thank you.


Good morning and thanks for the company. Thanks for coming. I am happy to resume traveling, and this is an emblematic journey. It is also a duty to a land that has been tormented for many years. Thanks for accompanying me. I will try to follow the directions and not shake everyone's hand, but I don't want to stay far away: I will pass by to greet you more closely. Thank you very much.

takes a "tour" among the journalists ]

I wish you a good trip. I would just like ... I was told that one of you was having a birthday today, but maybe it is a mistake ... And the second thing I would like to tell you is that there are absences that you feel, and today the "dean's" has passed by Valentina [Alazraki] to [Philip] Pulella. Valentina's absence gave me a little sadness, because she accompanied us, the Popes, for 40 years or 50… But we hope to have her on the next trip. And Pulella is our dean on this journey. Thank you!

Source: Press Release Vatican.va with excerpt from Vatican News

As is Customary - Pope Francis Sent Telegrams to Presidents of the Countries he Flew over - FULL TEXT Telegrams Below:

The departure from Rome

The 33rd International Apostolic Journey of Pope Francis who goes to Iraq began this morning.

On leaving Casa Santa Marta, shortly before 07.00, the Holy Father spoke for a few moments with about 12 people welcomed by the Community of Sant'Egidio and the Auxilium Cooperative , who had recently taken refuge in Italy from Iraq. The group was accompanied by the Almoner, Em.mo Card. Konrad Krajewski. Then Pope Francis moved by car to Rome-Fiumicino International Airport from where, at 7.35 am, aboard an Alitalia A330, he left for Baghdad.

The plane landed at Baghdad International Airport at 13.55 local time (11.55 Rome time).


Telegram to the President of the Italian Republic

When leaving the Italian territory, the Holy Father Francis sent the following telegraphic message to the President of the Italian Republic, Hon. Sergio Mattarella:

His Excellence On. Sergio Mattarella

President Of The Italian Republic

Palazzo Del Quirinale 00187 Rome

When I Leave Rome To Go To Iraq A Pilgrim Of Peace And Fraternity Among The Peoples, I Wanted To Address To You, Mr President, My Deferent Greetings, Who Accompany The Italian People With Fervid Happens Of Serenity And Prosperity.

Franciscus Pp.

[00282-en.01] [Original Text: Italian]

Telegrams To The Heads Of State On The Flight From Rome To Baghdad

During The Flight To Baghdad, In Flying Over Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Palestine And Finally Jordan, The Holy Father Francis Sent The Following Telegraph Messages To The Respective Heads Of State:

Overflight Greece

Her Excellency Katerina Sakellaropoulou

President Of The Hellenic Republic


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.

Franciscus Pp.

Overflight Cyprus

His Excellency Nicos Anastasiades

President Of Cyprus


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.

Franciscus Pp.

I Fly Over Israel

His Excellency Reuven Rivlin

President Of The State Of Israel

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.

Franciscus Pp.

Overflight Palestine

His Excellency Mahmoud Abbas

President Of The State Of Palestine

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.

Franciscus Pp.


Overflight Jordan

His Majesty Abdullah Ii

King Of Jordan


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.

Source: https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2021/03/05/0129/00281.html