Wednesday, 4 June 2003

Vatican City (Fides Service) – At the end of a visit to Iraq (28 May - 3 June), the President of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, issued a statement to journalists. He said he had been charged by the Pope to carry his spiritual closeness to those people who suffer the tragic consequences of the war. Accompanied by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Fernando Filoni, Mgr Cordes celebrated the Eucharist with Iraqi Catholics on three occasions: “I had the opportunity of addressing the Christian community, always numerous, confirming the paternal union and encouragement of the Holy Father.” The visit included a series of meetings: with the Bishops of the different Christian confessions, with civil authorities and some diplomatic representatives and international organisations. The President of “Cor Unum” also visited religious congregations and the charity institutes run by them: “All expressed their gratitude to the Holy Father for his tireless commitment in favour of the people of Iraq and for peace”. Mgr. Cordes – who saw a great spirit of collaboration among the Christians in Iraq – was able to verify the needs of the country in view of an aid plan involving Catholic humanitarian organisations. In his statement the Archbishop confirmed “the contribution that the Catholic Church could give for a future in which religious, cultural, social and political rights of all are acknowledged, and in which particularly one guarantees to the Christians the right to profess freely their own faith.” (S.L.) (Fides Service 4/6/2003 – lines 18; words 263)

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