TURIN, Italy, SEPT. 22, 2004 (Zenit.org).- In the wake of attacks on churches in Iraq that prompted some Christians to emigrate, the Archdiocese of Turin has launched a plan to “adopt” Catholic priests in that country.
The project, entitled “I Have a New Friend: An Iraqi Chaldean Priest,” is beginning with the objective to help 10 young parish priests of Baghdad.
Organizers of the initiative told ZENIT that the financial aid sent to these priests will be used “to improve the conditions of life of the communities themselves, by committing themselves to invest it, in the measure allowed by the situation.”
The founders and directors of the project are Italian Father Fredo Olivero, who heads the archdiocesan Office of Pastoral Care for Emigrants; and Iraqi Father Douglas Shamshoon Al Bazi, parish priest of the Chaldean churches of Mar Mari and Mar Ephrem in Baghdad, and director of the Baghdad Catechesis Center.
The initiative has the approval of Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Isaac Jacques.
Father Olivero referred to the Chaldean priests the program aims to help.
“Each one of them knows his community and its needs, and each one is aware that material aid is useful if it is accompanied by the cultural growth that the aid can promote,” the Italian priest said. “A growth that, although addressed to all, is oriented in particular to children, who need to be able to count on the hope of a better future.”
The organizers stipulate that whoever commits himself to adopt an Iraqi priest must do so for at least one year.
The amount established “for the year 2004 is 1,000 euros” which “corresponds to the total annual figure that Iraqi young priests receive,” Father Olivero added.
The project provides for direct contact between the priest and those who adopt it, which can be one person or a group.
Father Olivero can be contacted via email@example.com.
Father Sahmshoon Al Bazi can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.