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Pope sends personal envoy to northern Iraq

By editor - 11 August, 2014

Cardinal Fernando Filoni

Cardinal Fernando Filoni

Courtesy: ANSA © Copyright ANSA

Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Fernando Filoni on Friday as his personal envoy to northern Iraq.

Jihadist militias have been driving tens of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities from their homes in the region in recent weeks.

Cardinal Filoni is tasked with bringing the Pope’s personal message of solidarity as well as financial aid, amid reports that as many as 100,000 Christians were violently driven from their homes in northern Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), who conquered their cities earlier this week.

Iraqi authorities on Wednesday reported that ISIS militia had kidnapped hundreds of women and young girls from the Yazidi religious minority.

They called on the international community to help save the women, who Baghdad said were captured after ISIS forces overran the north-western town of Sinjar.

“The Pope wanted to mobilise, given the grave ongoing emergency,” Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, said.

The Pope has called on all nuncios in the region to convey his message to local authorities and churches.

“We must put an end to this ongoing humanitarian crisis, protect those under threat of violence, and ensure aid to the displaced,” Pope Francis said Thursday.

The nuncios will likely be called to a meeting in Rome in September, Fr Lombardi added.

The envoy should reach Iraqi Kurdistan in the coming days.

“We are preparing the mission, so we don’t have an itinerary yet,” Fr Lombardi stated.

Cardinal Filoni is a former papal nuncio to Jordan and Iraq, where he was the sole diplomat to remain throughout the US invasion and years of occupation.

“He displayed remarkable courage, and is the right man for this new mission,” Fr Lombardi said.

“He knows the lay of the land, and he commands respect on the ground”.

“I ask all men of good will to join my prayers for the Iraqi Christians and all persecuted communities,” Pope Francis tweeted on Friday.


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