On the second anniversary (Monday, February 12) of the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch, and Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations, met in Vienna. A delegation from the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need, which has been promoting the dialogue between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches for 25 years, also attended the meeting and presented a documentary work of the extent of the damage and sacrifice of Christians in Syria that was the outcome of a collaborative effort between Catholics and Orthodox.
Until now 35 per cent of the Christian inhabitants of Iraq have returned to their hometowns, as the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) informs after its latest trip to the region. But only 18 per cent of their houses on the Nineveh Plains have been rebuilt, Father Andrzej Halemba from ACN reported, “some only makeshift.” This is the reason why internally and externally displaced Iraqis are currently returning at a slower rate than in the previous months, the head of the Middle East section of the international foundation ACN explained. Since 2017, ACN has channelled its funding to the campaign promoting their return. In view of the current situation, the international Catholic pastoral charity has now approved another five million US dollars in immediate aid for the reconstruction. “If we do not do everything in our power to support this first third of returning Christians, they will leave their towns again and perhaps even the country for good,” Baron Johannes von Heereman, executive president of the ACN, gave voice to his concerns.
By Maria Lozano
The guardian of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem was recently interviewed by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). “We have to see the Child Jesus in each individual person whom we help. Above all at Christmas time we need to pay very special attention to those in need”, he told ACN. “If we do not see the Child in those who are suffering, then what kind of Christmas is that?”