Pope Francis during the general audience in the Saint Peter Square - 26 August 2015

PHOTO.VA - OSSERVATORE ROMANO

Pope Meets With Iraqi Parish Priest Who Receives Refugees in Kurdistan

At End of General Audience, Father Samir Yousif Showed Pope Album Documenting Atrocities of the War

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Immediately after Wednesday’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis met an Iraqi priest committed to helping refugees.

After attending the audience in a front row space reserved for him, Father Samir Yousif, Iraqi Chaldean priest providing pastoral care in Kurdistan, approached the Pope to show him an album of photographs that document the “apocalyptic catastrophe” of his land, reported L’Osservatore Romano.

The priest serves the parish of Amadiyak, on the border with Turkey. 

Refugees arrive in his community without clothes or documents, «fleeing from certain death,» the priest explained. Given this, he stressed that, “in an instant, roots that date back to the first Christian century are wiped away because in those areas we Christians are neither guests nor foreigners,” Father Samir said.

The Iraqi parish priest then expressed his gratitude to all those who are supporting the refugees in his area: from Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pope’s personal envoy to Iraq, to the Italian Episcopal Conference and Caritas. In particular, Father Samir thanked the Pope “for his interventions addressed to the international community: his voice, he can be certain, is much listened throughout the Arab world.”

“When Pope Francis speaks of the tragedy of the refugees,» the priest noted, «the media gives him ample space and this helps us to finally find solidarity, rather than fall into oblivion.”

Father Samir said he does not lose hope «for a future of peace, reconciliation and justice, despite everything.” Explaining that among those he receives, there are Muslims, the priest underscored, “The madness of ISIS is only blind violence and it cannot win.”

At this moment of terrible trial, “the Chaldean Church is alive, and even stronger and more united, today, because of the harsh trial it is going through,” he said.

Father Samir expressed his hope that in the near future, Pope Francis would meet with his archdiocese’s people, «to confirm us in the faith and encourage us not to be afraid.”

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