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Pope Francis blesses a young boy in the Syriac Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Bakhdida, Iraq, on March 7, 2021. Photo credits: Vatican Media.
Pope Francis blesses a Lad in the Syriac Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Bakhdida, Iraq, on March 7, 2021. Photo Credits: Vatican Media

Source - Catholic News Agency

In the last Apostolic visit of Pope Francis to Iraq, he donated a whooping sum of $350,000 to support the Chaldean Catholics and local families affected by conflict and the pandemic.

According to Agenzia Fides, Cardinal Louis RaphaĆ«l Sako told them that the pope’s gift was “intended to be a sign of how real and concrete the pope’s love is for all the Iraqi people.”

Cardinal Sako, is the Patriarch of Babylon and head of the Chaldean Catholic Church.

Explaining how the money will be disbursed, he said that $250,000 will be managed by the Chaldean Archdiocese of Baghdad. The remaining $100,000 had been divided between the Chaldean Archdiocese of Mosul and Syriac Catholics in Bakhdida, also known as Qaraqosh.

Sako said that the Church had distributed already, 12,000 food packages to people throughout the country, to “Christian and Muslim families, even those belonging to all the other faith communities present in Iraq.”

Pope Francis visited Iraq March 5-8. During the historic visit, he traveled to meet with Christians in BaghdadBakhdida (Qaraqosh), Erbil, and Mosul. He also met political and religious leaders, including Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

Sako wrote an appreciation letter to Pope Francis, thanking him for his visit and the donation. He said he would have loved to come to Rome to thank the pope in person but he was prevented by the coronavirus pandemic and complications with travel.

He said that Pope Francis “sowed awareness of the importance of accepting and respecting diversity, behaving as different brothers, called to love each other and help each other to build situations in which every man lives with dignity, freedom and equal rights and duties.”

“We hope that this line of behavior, as indicated in your speech in Baghdad, also inspires the intentions of the great world powers,” he added.

Cardinal Sako also wrote that the prayer the  pope said in Baghdad, that “‘Iraq will always remain with me, in my heart,’ left a profound echo that is indelibly impressed on our memory.”

“For us, your Christian daughters and sons, your visit has fulfilled a great dream, and has given us strong support to stay, communicate with others, hope, and build trust,” Sako said.

“We are immensely grateful for your phrase ‘you are a living and strong Church,’ which encouraged us to hope and to move forward with enthusiasm.”

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