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8/8/2014 - RMG - The Rector Major relaunches the Pope’s appeal for Christians of northern Iraq

(ANS – Rome) – Faced with the violence that Iraqi Christians are being subjected to in northern Iraq, yesterday August 7, Pope Francis sent out an appeal so that by means of prayer and aid we can see “an end to the current humanitarian drama”.  This appeal has also been backed by the Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime that we might “keep our brothers and sisters in the various Christian communities in northern Iraq very much in our hearts.”

A veritable exodus is taking place in northern Iraq at the moment: around 100 thousand Christians are fleeing the violence. On the evening of Wednesday 6th, militia groups conquered Qaraqosh, the main Christian city in Iraq, located between Mosul and Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region. In normal times it would have a population of about 50 thousand, but for some time it has also taken in Christian refugees fleeing Mosul. One after the other nearby cities such as Tal Kayf, Bartella and Karamlesh have also fallen.

“Churches have been taken over, crosses removed. 100,000 Christian refugees have fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs, some on foot, to reach the Kurdistan area” the Chaldean Patriarch in Kirkuk, archbishop Louis Sako said yesterday.

“The situation of these refugee Christiansis desperate because in Arbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, they are not ready to take them in because they don't know where to put up thousands of arrivals” explained Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Faced with this terrible situation Pope Francis has renewed “his spiritual empathy with all those who are going through this very painful trial” and has called on the whole Church “to raise up ceaseless prayer together, asking the Holy Spirit for the gift of peace.”

The Pope has also uttered a “pressing appeal to the international community” that “that it act to protect those involved or threatened by the violence and to ensure the necessary aid, especially of the most urgent kind, for so many who are displaced, and whose fate depends on the solidarity of others.”

Today the Rector Major has likewise backed this appeal, “inviting everyone to join the Pope in prayer, and to keep our Christian brothers and sisters in northern Iraq very much in our hearts, bearing in mind that our fellowship and solidarity is very important for them. He asks us to educate and educate ourselves to be tolerant of diversity so a more gospel-based and just humanity can be built”.

Published 08/08/2014

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