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An Easter gift for those displaced in Iraq

· Cardinal Filloni continues his mission ·

During Holy Week, Cardinal Fernando Filloni is on mission in Iraq, where he has visited several villages in the north, those closest to areas occupied by militants of the so-called Islamic State.

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples was sent last August by Pope Francis as a Special Envoy to the populations worn out by the violence of Jihadists and by years of war. He has returned to Iraq to visit especially the camps sheltering Christian and Yazidi minorities who have fled from Mossul and the Niniveh Plain.

Cardinal Filloni went first to Baghdad and then to Arbil, also meeting with representatives of the local Catholic Church — from bishops to the missionary sisters of charity who run a centre in the capital — and with local authorities. He also met with members of the autonomous government of Iraqi Kurdistan, who assured him that Christians and other minorities are foremost in their thoughts.

After Arbil, the city receiving the greatest number of refugees, Cardinal Filoni went to the historically Assyrian cities of Shaqlawa, Aqrah and Alqosh. He also visited the tomb of the biblical prophet Nahum and met with Skeikh Kato, the Yazidi supreme spiritual leader, or "Baba Sheikh" . Most of the prefect's time, however, has been spent with the refugees in area villages. This has given him the opportunity to ascertain that the situation is vastly improved over that of August, because the families have found housing. Nevertheless they continue to live in difficult and delicate circumstances. Therefore, as a gift and a gesture of encouragement, he brought them 6,000 colombe, traditional Italian Easter cakes, offered by the dioceses of Rome.

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Sept. 20, 2019

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