Church Offering Coordinated Aid to Help Rebuild Iraq

Papal Envoy Completes His Trip

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 3, 2003 ( At the end of his visit to Iraq, John Paul II’s special envoy said that Catholic relief groups worldwide will offer a coordinated contribution to the country’s reconstruction.

Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council «Cor Unum,» who ended a five-day visit to Iraq on Monday, said in a statement published today that the areas of greatest need are food, housing, health and education.

The German archbishop said that he went to Iraq to express, above all, the Pope’s «spiritual closeness» to «those who have gone through sorrowful consequences of the war in these past months.»

«Cor Unum» sources told ZENIT that the archbishop took along to Iraq a substantial donation from the Pope for the country’s reconstruction.

Together with Archbishop Fernando Filoni, the apostolic nuncio in Iraq, Archbishop Cordes celebrated the Eucharist on three occasions with the Catholics of the country: on May 29 in Baghdad, on May 31 in Mosul in the Chaldean rite, and on June 1 in the Syrian Catholic rite.

During his stay, the archbishop held numerous meetings, particularly two encounters with more than 10 Catholic bishops. He also met with various bishops of other Christian confessions in Baghdad and Mosul, and also with the civil authority; the director general of the United Nations Development Program, Francis Dubois; the mayor of Mosul; and some diplomatic representatives.

The archbishop also visited some religious congregations and the respective charitable institutions they administer, including St. Raphael’s Hospital, the home of Mother Teresa’s sisters, and an institution for young girls in Mosul.

«Every one has expressed gratitude to the Holy Father for his tireless commitment to the people of Iraq and to peace,» Archbishop Cordes said.

«Having experienced a great spirit of communion and collaboration among Christians in Iraq, I have assured them that I will refer these sentiments of profound recognition to His Holiness,» he added.

The president of «Cor Unum,» whose objective is to promote and coordinate the work of Catholic charitable organizations worldwide, verified «personally the necessities of the country in view of a plan of aid which will involve the Catholic humanitarian organizations.»

«They have already identified some sectors of intervention, such as emergency aid in food, housing, health and education,» he said. «Many Catholic aid agencies are intending to take charge, together with other institutions, of these necessities.»

Quoting the «Declaration of the Patriarchs and the Bishops of Iraq» of April 29, Archbishop Cordes affirmed «the contribution that the Catholic Church could make for a future in which the religious, cultural, social and political rights of all are acknowledged,» and, in particular, where Christians have «the right to profess freely their own faith.»

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