(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has called on people to “not forget the tragedy of persecution” in a letter sent Iraq Christians in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.
The letter – along with a gift of liturgical vestments and monetary support – was brought to the city by a delegation of the Italian branch of Aid to the Church in Need, led by the Bishop of Carpi, Francesco Cavina.
Erbil has been hosting thousands of Christian refugees from Mosul and the Nineveh Plains, which was overrun by the so-called Islamic State in 2014.
“As soon as the Holy Father learned about my journey with Aid to the Church in Need, he called me and expressed a desire to send a gift to our Iraqi brothers in faith,” Bishop Cavina said.
The letter sent by the Holy Father expressed his “friendship, Ecclesial communion, and spiritual closeness” to Iraqi Christians, adding their suffering “grieves me deeply, and invites us to defend the inalienable right of every person to freely profess their faith.”
Pope Francis also asked people “not to forget the tragedy of persecution,” and noted “the witness of courageous faith and patience of so many disciples of Christ represents for the entire Church a call to rediscover the fertile source of the Pascal Mystery from which we draw energy, strength, and light for a new humanism.”
"Mercy calls us to bend down to our brothers and sisters so we may dry their tears; cure their wounds, physical and moral; and console their hearts, which have been broken, and perhaps lost” – Pope Francis writes – “This is not only an appropriate act of charity, but a succour to your own body, because all Christians, by virtue of their common baptism, are ‘one’ in Christ. "
The delegation from Aid to the Church in Need was scheduled to visit refugee centres in Kurdistan, as well as a school donated by the organization which is allowing seven-thousand Iraqi children to continue their studies.