Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum' has been sent by the Holy Father to Iraq in order to co-ordinate humanitarian aid efforts by the Catholic Church in the country. He began his trip yesterday. According to a communique made public by "Cor Unum", John Paul II asked Archbishop Cordes to convey his spiritual closeness to the entire Iraqi population." The prelate's task will be "to verify personally the needs and conditions that permit the Catholic Church to operate in territories afflicted by war. In particular, together with the Bishops and Catholic NGOs, he will have to carry out a plan of aid in response to the health and food emergencies in addition to those of reconstruction." "The Church, through its capillary presence," continues the communique, "is willing to help, as in other similar situations, in the equal distribution of humanitarian aid and in fostering social and political reconstruction." "During his stay in Iraq Archbishop Cordes, who will be accompanied by humanitarian aid experts, will meet with the apostolic nuncio, bishops, Catholic organizations and civil authorities. On Sunday June 1, he will celebrate Mass in the cathedral of Baghdad and the following day he will go to Mosul." The document concludes: "Even though the embargo has been lifted, which opens up new possibilities of relations with the Iraqi community, this trip of the Pope's envoy takes place in a particularly delicate moment for the future of peaceful co-existence in that region." Source: VIS
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