"I spent Palm Sunday in Amman, Jordan, where refugees are welcomed in parishes; then I transferred to Baghdad, Iraq. But I spent most of my time in the north, in the areas of Iraqi Kurdistan, celebrating Easter rites and meeting with families, not only Christian, fleeing the violence of the so-called Islamic State, and meeting with the religious and institutional authorities involved in receiving them". Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, shares his impressions in an interview with L'Osservatore Romano, talking about his recent trip to Iraq during Holy Week, sent by Pope Francis to express sympathy and solidarity with the families who live a difficult situation every day.
"In all the villages, as well as in the camps set up in the city, I found love – said the Cardinal -. People appreciated it a lot. In all the homes and parishes where I went I was told: 'Your presence is a blessing for us'. And all the meetings were concluded with a prayer and a blessing. Talking to them, I urged them not to lose hope, ensuring that we have not forgotten and will not forget them. I also encouraged them to look ahead".
With regards to the hospitality given to displaced families, the Cardinal explains that "in Arbil, for example, there are homes rented through Caritas and NGOs bear the costs to accommodate two or three families in an apartment; then there are schools or other buildings like the big mall, which has not been completed, where families have found shelter. The living conditions are difficult". The commitment of parishes is relevant: "From Duhoc to Arbil, from Suleimanjia to Alqosh, communities have opened their doors. And each community provides hospitality to these people".
Iraqi families all expect to be able to return "to their homes, to their villages. It does not matter to them if they should find destruction and plundering, rebuilding does not scare them. And we are ready to help them start over".
Source: Fides News