"Cor Unum" Thanked for Commitment to Afghanistan

First Aid Making Its Way into the War-torn Nation

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 7, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II praised the assistance that the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” has offered the Afghan people in recent months.

The Pontiff expressed his gratitude this morning when he received the council´s plenary assembly at the Vatican. “Cor Unum” allocates funds to papal charities, and encourages and coordinates the aid of Catholic institutions worldwide.

Shortly after the U.S.-led military operation began against Afghanistan, the pontifical council´s president, Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, traveled to Pakistan on behalf of the Pope to meet with Afghan refugees and find out firsthand about their conditions.

That visit served eventually to coordinate Catholic aid to refugees. To date, Caritas International has allocated more than $12 million in aid to Afghan peoples. In recent weeks, this aid has begun to enter Afghan territory, especially first aid and materials for the reconstruction of homes.

On that trip, Archbishop Cordes had a message from the Pope for Pakistani Catholics. He arrived Oct. 27, the very day of the bloody attack on a church in Bahawalpur, where 16 people died. In his message, the Pope appealed for Catholics´ contribution to peace and assistance to refugees.

In evaluating his trip for a Communion and Liberation publication, Archbishop Cordes recalled that the greatest help the Catholic Church can offer is “its spiritual weapons”: the proclamation of the hope and peace of Christ, as well as education in authentic values.

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