12/04/2012, 00.00
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Advent in Kirkuk: young people help poor Christian and Muslim children

by Tomaso Mammo*
The response to the archbishop's initiative "really surprised everyone." Some of the money will go to the Sick Children's Hospital and people who need treatment and drugs. For Mgr Sako, bringing "Christ's joy to their hearts" at Christmas brings a message of "hope, dynamism and sharing".

Kirkuk (AsiaNews) - On the first Sunday of Advent, young people in Kirkuk, an archdiocese in northern Iraq, raised funds for the city's poor kids. At the express wish of Mgr Louis Sako, this initiative of solidarity for children and the needy is central to Christmas celebrations. The money raised, as indicated by sources inside the archbishopric, will go to "Christians and Muslims." The faithful's generosity "surprised everyone."

On Sunday, Mgr Sako asked the boys and girls of Kirkuk-scene of a bloody power struggle between Arabs, Turkmen, Kurds and Shias for control of the oil fields around the city-to support fund raising in the city's four parishes. The initiative is part of the events and activities that characterise the weeks of Advent ahead of Christmas.

In his appeal, the archbishop said that the birth of Christ is "not a past event" for Christmas is a message of "hope, dynamism and sharing" with others that is still valid nowadays. The prelate also stressed the fact that the feast day is a sign of faith working "through love".

"So many people have helped us in the past during times of tribulation and suffering. Now it is our turn, as a token of our gratitude, to give others a helping hand. Compassion towards our suffering brothers, showing them our solidarity, is an integral part of our faith."

By order of the archbishop, the money will be "distributed to Christian and Muslim orphans" without distinctions of religion or ethnicity. Some of the money will also go to the Children's Hospital, to poor families, and sick people in need of treatment and drugs.

The money will be handed over by "Santa Clause groups" who will bring "Christ's joy to their hearts."

*Priest in Iraq from the Order of Discalced Carmelites (ODC)

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