"I think it's a very important trip," the 93-year-old pope emeritus, who lives in a monastery in the Vatican City, told the Corriere della Sera daily.
"Unfortunately, it comes at a very difficult time, which also makes it a dangerous trip: for reasons of security and for COVID-19."
"And then there's the unstable situation in Iraq. I will accompany Francis with my prayers."
Francis, 84, will become the first pope to visit Iraq when he begins a packed three-day trip on Friday.
But the pope, who like Benedict has been vaccinated against COVID-19, appears set on going — even if restrictions mean most Iraqis will have to follow the trip on television.