Pope weighed Iraq virus risk but believes God will protect

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) — Pope Francis says he weighed the risks of a high-profile trip to Iraq during the coronavirus pandemic. But he said he decided to go ahead with it after much prayer and belief that God would take care of Iraqis who might get exposed. Francis described his decision-making process en route home from Iraq on Monday amid concerns that his four-day visit could result in the spread of infections in a country with a fragile health care system and a sustained surge in new cases. The visit featured scenes of oftentimes maskless Iraqis packed into churches, singing and otherwise flouting social-distancing norms. Francis said the pandemic was the issue that weighed most heavily on him.