After a stopover in Amman, Jordan, and having visited Baghdad and Erbil in Iraq, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, went today to some villages of northern Iraq to convey Pope Francis’ blessing and concrete solidarity.
The Vatican envoy was reassured by meetings he had with top Kurdish institutions, as he explained to Vatican Radio: “I was able to meet with both the President of the Parliament and with first authorities of Kurdistan. They all assured me that Christians are also at the top of their priorities and that they hope their presence will not fail.”
Cardinal Filoni then reflected on the subject of mercy, for which the Pope has proclaimed a Holy Year beginning December 8th. According to the Cardinal, “our Muslim brothers should also learn to live a sabbatical year of mercy, especially because they also believe in one clement and merciful God.” Therefore, “if together with Christians, Muslims also celebrate mercy, that fraternity, that closeness can be rebuilt, all founded on the mystery of God, because if peace, reconciliation and mercy do not have God as the basis, obviously they are neither mercy nor peace,” he added.
The impression Cardinal Filoni is having is that “the situation, from a general point of view, in relation to the month of August, of course is much improved because families have found housing, an accommodation, even if it is two families in one same house.” However, the situation continues to be “difficult and delicate,” alleviated by the presence of the Catholic Church, which is assuring considerable help to refugees. Moreover, with Cardinal Filoni’s presence, precisely during Holy Week, the population is also assured of a spiritual closeness.
“I have already said to several groups, which I have met, that the mystery of their suffering is precious in the eyes of God, because it is united to that of Christ in this Holy Week, therefore they must not think that their suffering is useless and not worth anything,” affirmed Cardinal Filoni.
“Even if their condition at this moment apparently gives no hope, before God’s eyes it has worth and is precious. It is an encouragement of a spiritual type beside that of a material type that we offer,” he concluded.