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Saturday, February 25, 2017
Iraqi Christians show faith under fire
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¬†The unshakable faith amid terrible suffering of bomb-blasted Iraqi Christians is revealed in a rare insight given to a Catholic charity devoted to their care. Catholic leaders in Baghdad and the southern Iraqi city of Basra have told staff from Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) of hundreds of Christians taking shelter in churches praying all night to be spared the worst. Baghdad's Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Fernando Filoni, has joined clergy and nuns in visits to people across the city offering encouragement, particularly to those in over-crowded hospitals. Their support is bolstered by more than £1 million of ACN aid delivered since 1998. Clergy including Bishop Kassab of Basra have contacted ACN with a message of hope that the Faith is giving people strength where all else has failed. They say that Christians unable to flee the scene of bombardment are desperate for basic needs such as food and fresh water. Key supplies have been cut off. ACN staff are desperate to get a £40,000 Church in Need emergency aid package through to beleaguered Christian communities trapped in the middle of the fighting. Critically, a key part of the aid is intended for medical aid in Basra. About £13,000 is bound for Jordan as refugees swarm in, lacking the most basic of resources and a similar amount is allocated for Kurds in northern Iraq. The rest is for Baghdad where Archbishop Filoni a key supporter of ACN,s work is expected to play a critical role in ensuring the aid gets to the people most in need. In the first stage of getting the money to the needy, ACN has sent the aid to important contacts in Amman. ACN Middle East experts say organisers of a Pontifical Mission will be crucial to the success of the relief mission because they are on the spot in places such as Jordan. ACN's John Pontifex said: "Our Iraqi contacts have spoken of the horrible fear that is gripping the Christian communities all over the Iraq. But in such a terrible time of need, they tell us how much their Faith is a real consolation to them all." Reports say Christians have responded to the Pope's repeated call to say the Rosary in the cause of peace - "praying at all hours". Aid to the Church in Need is a registered charity, backed personally by the Pope, dedicated to the support of persecuted and oppressed Christians. Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom the Pope named an 'Apostle of Charity' the organisation is now at work in more than 130 countries throughout the world, especially Eastern Europe. The charity, whose UK office is in Sutton, Surrey, undertakes more than 7,000 projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative's launch in 1979, about 40 million Aid to the Church in Need Child's Bibles have been distributed world-wide.
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