TURIN, Italy, DEC. 22, 2004 (ZENIT.org).- The Archdiocese of Turin has organized a Christmas card exchange between Italian and Iraqi children, and promoted its project of “adopting” Catholic priests in Iraq.
Father Fredo Olivero, director of the archdiocesan Pastoral Office for Immigrants, told ZENIT that the project “I Have a New Friend: An Iraqi Chaldean Priest” has taken 10 priests under its wings.
Thanks to the donations of Italian Catholics, 10,000 euros ($13,300) was sent to the priests last month.
This help should be used by the priests to “better the conditions of life in the communities in which they live, committed to invest in it, in the measure to which the situation permits it, in the development of the same,” said Father Olivero.
The attacks against the churches in Baghdad and Mosul in recent months, as well as the daily threat and violence against the Iraqi Christians, complicate the survival of the small but old Christian community.
“To help the Iraqi Christian communities through their spiritual guides is to strengthen them and to try, in the measure that it is possible, to offer them a ‘normal’ life, which they can experience through our demonstration of closeness to them,” said Father Olivero.
The Pastoral Office of Immigrants of the Turin Archdiocese has also launched a project called Christmas of Peace, in which children from various Italian cities have sent Christmas cards and drawings to Christian children in Iraq.
The second phase of the project will be a written response and drawings from the Iraqi children for Easter 2005.
Father Olivero said: “To help the Iraqi communities is not easy, but it is possible, and above all it is important, so that the Christian path begun in these lands by the preaching of St. Thomas the Apostle does not end in the diaspora strengthened by those who, in spite of everything, are proud to be Iraqi Christians.”