Vatican Official Heads to Iraq to Coordinate Catholic Aid for Reconstruction

Archbishop Cordes Will Visit Baghdad and Mosul

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2003 ( A Vatican official left for Iraq to express John Paul II’s closeness to “all the people of the country” and to coordinate the Catholic Church’s contribution to the postwar reconstruction.

Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum,” has the task to “verify personally the needs and conditions that will allow the Catholic Church to operate in those territories scourged by the war,” the Vatican press office said in a statement today. The trip will include stops in Baghdad and Mosul.

“In particular, Archbishop Cordes will have to organize, with the bishops and Catholic NGOs [non-governmental organizations], a rational and coordinated plan of aid to respond to the health and food emergencies, as well as for the reconstruction,” the statement added.

According to “Cor Unum,” an organization that supports and coordinates the activity of Catholic institutions worldwide, the Church is prepared to help “in the just distribution of humanitarian aid or in fostering social and political reconstruction.”

Archbishop Cordes will be accompanied by humanitarian aid experts, and will meet with Archbishop Fernando Filoni, the apostolic nuncio in Iraq, as well as with bishops, Catholic organizations and the authorities.

The papal representative will celebrate Mass next Sunday in the cathedral in Baghdad. The next day he will travel to Mosul.

The Vatican statement concludes: “In the favorable moment of the fall of the embargo, which opens new possibilities of relation with the Iraqi community, the trip of the papal envoy is taking place in the framework of a particularly delicate time for the future of peaceful coexistence in the region.”

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