Baghdad (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis has donated 1 million US dollars for Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq who have been targeted by terrorists of the Islamic state and forced to leave their homes to avoid having to convert to Islam.
This news was reported by Card. Fernardo Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, sent on mission by the Pope to the Middle Eastern country to express Francis' closeness to the victims of this violence. The money comes from the Pope's personal funds, and Card. Filoni only brought a tenth of the money with him: "75% of the money - he told the Catholic News Agency - was given to the Catholics, the rest to the Yazidi community."
The Prefect visited Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, August 12 to 20, while the Pope was on his pastoral visit to South Korea. Card. Filoni states that "having sent a personal representative means that, if he could, he would go to people." The Church, he added, "as long as our Christians remain in the region, we cannot abandon them. As long as even one only Christian lives in Iraq, we will be there . This is Pope Francis' line," he said. "That we, as shepherds, should carry our sheep on our shoulders and lead them, but we also must walk with them. We must walk in front of them to lead them, walk among them to spur them, walk behind them to encourage them".
Pope Francis has repeatedly stressed the humanitarian tragedy taking place in Iraq, and asked everyone to engage in concrete help for those who are suffering in the country. Following this appeal, AsiaNews has launched the "Adopt a Christian from Mosul", appealing to readers and friends to support the needs of those who have been forced by violence to flee their homes and all their worldly possessions to avoid being forced to convert or face death. The AsiaNews campaign aims to donate at least € 5 for every Christian, this would cover their food ration for one.
To help the Christians of Iraq you can donate by clicking here.