Baghdad (Fides Service) – “The Archbishop’s visit is yet another sign of the keen interest with which the Holy See follows the situation in Iraq” Youssef Bahofhy, local Caritas official, tells Fides Service. On 28 May Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, President of the Pope’s charity arm Pontifical Council Cor Unum, arrived in Iraq for a brief visit to verify needs and conditions for the Catholic Church to operate in the country.
Archbishop Cordes will discuss with the Bishops of Iraq and Catholic NGOs a plan to provide assistance to meet the health and food emergency so that the rebuilding the country may begin. On Sunday June 1 Bishop Cordes celebrated Mass in the Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad and on Monday 2 June he went to Mosul.
One of the bodies involved in the visit is Caritas Iraq which has already started assistance. “The Pope’s call for peace and reconciliation in Iraq were welcomed with joy by the Iraqi people – says Youssef Bahofhy-. As Caritas we feel we are deeply committed to putting into practice the Pope’s request. We have started a project to build schools and hospitals for everyone, regardless of their religion or ethnic origin. The spirit of the project is to involve all the social and religious groups in Iraq. We are certain that together we people of Iraq can build a new country”.
One of the primary needs is to guarantee a minimum of security everywhere in Iraq. Local Church sources in northern Iraq where Bishop Cordes went on 2 June, voiced “concern for the situation of public order. The village of Karakuch home to about 25,000 people all Christians, has been repeatedly attacked and looted by groups of armed men. The local policemen have disappeared, there is total anarchy”.
The question of security was one of the priorities mentioned by Karel Zelenka, head of the department for international cooperation of Caritas Internationalis, in a recent interview with Fides Service (see Fides 28 May 2003). LM (Fides Service 31/5/2003 EM lines 29 Words: 363).