Pope Briefs Papal Envoy Ahead of Visit to Iraq

Instructs Cardinal Filoni on His Mission, Gives Him Aid for Victims

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Pope Francis received Cardinal Fernando Filoni yesterday evening in order to instruct him on his mission as papal envoy to Iraq.

The Holy Father also gave the cardinal some funds to be used as aid to help those most affected by persecution from the Islamist group, the Islamic State.

During the meeting at 6pm in the Pope’s St. Martha residence, Cardinal Filoni informed the Pope on the preparations of his missions and his imminent departure, according to a Vatican statement. 

“The Pope reiterated to the cardinal his sentiments in the face of the tragic events taking place – sentiments that he expressed several time in these days,” the statement added.

The Vatican said the Pontiff gave the papal envoy “personal instructions for the mission, entrusting him with a sum [of money] to be used for the urgent aid of those most affected, as a sign of the concrete solidarity of the Pope and his participation in the efforts of the institutions and of people of good will to respond to the dramatic situation.”

Pope Francis last week nominated Cardinal Filoni as his personal envoy. The prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples was apostolic nuncio to Iraq during the 2003 Iraq War.

The Vatican said Cardinal Filoni was appointed envoy to show the Pope’s closeness to the Iraqi population, especially Christians who are “extremely in need of support and encouragement.”

During his Angelus address on Sunday, the Pope said that the violence and destruction in Iraq offends God and humanity and he held a silent prayer for victims of the conflict.

The Islamic State, which has been seizing territory in northern Iraq, is a jihadist group claiming religious authority over all the world’s Muslims. The United Nations Security Council has officially designated the group to be a foreign terrorist organization. 

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