VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has called repeatedly for prayers and concrete aid from the world’s faithful for those hit by the continuing crises in Iraq and Syria — a call just echoed recently by hundreds of the world’s bishops attending the extraordinary synod on the family.
After convening a high-level summit of Vatican diplomats Oct. 2-4 to discuss the dramatic situation of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East, the pope will be asking a formal meeting of cardinals Oct. 20 to look at the summit’s findings.
Catholics around the world have been mobilizing, too, as church leaders in the region keep speaking out for an end to the violence, propaganda and funding of terrorists.
AsiaNews, a Catholic news outlet that’s part of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (an Italy-based missionary order), launched an “Adopt a Christian” campaign this summer, for those people forced to flee from their homes in Mosul, Iraq, and the Nineveh plain because of extremist militants sweeping the region.
They’ve collected nearly $900,000 — all of it going to bishops from the Catholic and Eastern churches who have distributed it among their internally displaced and refugee parishioners.
The campaign is still on, said Father Bernardo Cervellera, the head of AsiaNews, and it will continue as long as the emergency lasts. He said just $6 can help feed one person a day, while $200 will last for one month.
He said the outpouring of support is a blow to the “globalization of indifference” with thousands of donations coming in from all over the world including China, Taiwan, Switzerland and Brazil.
Catholic Relief Services also gives people an easy way to support families affected by violence in Syria.
Chaldean Bishop Amel Nona of Mosul, who is with refugees in Kurdistan, has called for a permanent political solution because:
It is no longer possible to go on living in tents, or in public parks, or in schools because the season is changing and winter is knocking at the door. We have a lot of homeless people and not even a roof to cover them.
We are trying to find a solution to the housing problem, but we cannot accommodate everyone because the numbers are huge: we are not a powerful international humanitarian organization, although all our Christians insistently ask us to help them.
Our possibilities are limited because the whole country is going through a difficult phase of religious and ethnic division, accompanied by a real civil war and mutual distrust among the political and social parties. …
Once again I thank you all, praying to the Lord that our crisis is an opportunity to unite all Christians, making us active in our faith.
May the Lord bless you.
+ Amel NONA
Archbishop of Mosul of the Chaldeans
September 14, 2014