Catholic organizations working on service and relief projects in Iraq held a second meeting in Erbil at the invitation of the Ankawa Humanitarian Committee of the Chaldean Archdioecese of Erbil. Representatives of the participating Catholic organizations highlighted their most important challenges and achievements, including support for Christian minorities in the country.
The attendees discussed the main obstacles facing the work of Catholic organizations in Iraq, including the importance of strengthening and supporting ecclesiastical and pastoral work, and developing a systematic plan to support local churches by supporting various pastoral activities in them. The meeting also covered the crisis Christians face in the Nineveh Plain, as the lack of job opportunities leads to the emigration of many young people to other regions or countries.
Representatives of Catholic organizations also discussed the “Virgin Mary” IDP complex hosting displaced Christians in Baghdad, as the Baghdad Investment Directorate issued an order to evacuate before the end of this year, according to what the Iraqi government authorities announced. The meeting also discussed ways to support the Church in finding housing for the 120 families or about 400 displaced Christians living in the complex.
The representative of the papal nuncio, Father Charles Sona, participated in the meeting, in addition to representatives of Caritas Iraq, the Catholic Relief Services, the Jesuit Worldwide Learning, andfondazione giovanni paolo, in addition to several other organizations that provide various services in the country.
In a related context, Davide Bernocchi, the CRS country direcetor, said in an interview with “ACI MENA” that “Christians have an important role in social cohesion in Iraq,” adding: “The presence of Christians can’t be saved if they are isolated. They must be supported to be able to testify to their faith, through the projects that respond to all components of the community, strengthening the national cohesion in the country.”
Davide also praised the role played by the Catholic Church in Erbil during the ISIS invasion of Mosul, as it provided aid to all displaced people, regardless of their religious or ethnic affiliation. The Church gave an important testimony regarding the role of Christians in this country, following the example of the message of Jesus Christ.
For his part, Devar Sher, Executive Director of Ankawa Humanitarian Committee, said, “It is a joy that Catholic organizations meet regularly to discuss the challenges facing the community ” praising the important role that religious institutions can play in order to strengthen the Christian presence in Iraq. Devar hoped that these meetings would be held on a regular basis to coordinate projects and activities and better serve the vulnerable communities.