Photo: Iraqi refugees are seen in a camp near the northern city of Irbil June 12. (CNS photo/Stringer, EPA)
Archbishop Giorgio Lingua is the Pope’s representative in Iraq and Jordan. He spent time with Cardinal Dolan and me when we visited Jordan and the refugees there last month. In response to my email to him about the situation in Iraq he emailed this information to me today.
“For the Christian communities the principal problems right now are tied to caring for numerous refugees, both Christian and Muslim, in the villages in the Plain of Niniveh. All the priests and sisters have left Mosul and are now in Kremlos, Tell Keff, Karakosh and Bashiqa. Besides Christians, there are many Muslims who have found refuge and help in Church structures as in Alquosh.
“The militias who control Mosul have not committed acts of violence against or damaged any churches. Priests are allowed to come and out of Mosul to provide the Christians who are left with the sacraments in their homes. Yet the fact is that everyone is living in fear at what may happen next. There is a great fear that an armed response from the national army will bring an escalation of the violence. Please tell the faithful of your Diocese to pray for us and join with us in that a peaceful solution to this conflict can be found and negotiations might bring an end to all the problems that afflict this region of the world.”
I ask everyone in the Diocese to pray for a peaceful resolution of the current violence in Iraq. Remember Iraq and Syria at Mass and in your prayers at home. Pray too for the Christian communities in those countries as well as in Jordan where these small Christian communities are offering a great witness. In the midst of their own suffering, they are reaching out to others, both Christian and Muslim to offer their help in any way their meager resources allow. There is very little left in my charities account but I am going to drain it and send $10,000 to Archbishop Lingua so that he can distribute it directly to those Christian communities who are caring for the refugees. I can do this through the Vatican and thus guarantee that it will go directly to Archbishop Lingua who will give the money to the priests and sisters “on the ground” where people are struggling daily to survive. If anyone wishes to help me with additional donations, send them to me marked for that purpose and I will add any donations from to you to what I have left of mine.