By Marta Petrosillo
“Iraqi Christians were deeply moved by the gesture of the Holy Father,” said Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon Louis Raphaël I Sako to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Pope Francis has promised to donate a part of the funds raised from the auction of a special edition Lamborghini Huracan to charities including ACN. The Holy Father recently received the sports car as a gift. Pope Francis would like to use some of the proceeds from the auction to support Aid to the Church in Need’s project for Christians returning to their villages on the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq.
“By now I have become used to Francis’s surprises,” the patriarch added. This gesture “perfectly embodies Christian charity through concrete deeds.” It was widely reported by Iraqi media and closely followed, particularly by the Christian community. “It is not the first time that the pope has made a gesture like this to show us that he is close to us. He has not been able to visit us yet, but sometimes a humanitarian and spiritual presence is more important than a physical one.”
The news about this additional support from Rome has come at a very delicate time for the Nineveh Plains. Tensions in the area have intensified after the Kurdish independence referendum. “At the moment, the situation has calmed down and there is an openness towards dialogue. However, Iraq needs more. It will be necessary to separate church and state and implement a new concept of citizenship, which entitles every Iraqi to the same dignity, irrespective of his or her religious affiliation.”
In the meantime, ACN’s project continues to encourage displaced persons from Iraq to return to their Christian villages on the Nineveh Plains. “We would like to show that the Christian religion is still here in this country. Our presence is crucial for the members of all religions. Because Christianity represents an element of tolerance that has the ability to counter violence.” A fundamental teaching of Christianity is the forgiveness of enemies and persecutors and the active pursuit of peaceful coexistence.
In order to achieve this, the patriarch has called for further support in word, deed and joint prayer.
Editor’s Notes Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 172 languages and 50 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
While ACN gives full permission for the media to freely make use of the charity’s press releases, please acknowledge ACN as the source of stories when using the material.
For more information or to make a donation to help the work of Aid to the Church in Need, please contact the Australian office of ACN on (02) 9679-1929. e-mail: email@example.com or write to Aid to the Church in Need PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills BC NSW 2153. On Line donations can be made at www.aidtochurch.org