VISIT OF ARCHBISHOP
CORDES TO IRAQ
THE ENVOY OF THE HOLY FATHER, ARCHBISHOP PAUL JOSEF CORDES, PRESIDENT OF
"COR UNUM", HAS CONCLUDED THE MISSION TO IRAQ, BRINGING A SIGN
OF THE POPE'S SOLIDARITY WITH THE IRAQI PEOPLE IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE
Summary of the Archbishop's Statement Presented at the
Conclusion of the Mission. Monday, June 2, 2003
The Holy Father has repeatedly expressed his concern in these past
months over the recent events that have taken place in Iraq. Prior to
the war, he sent Cardinal Roger Etchegaray as his special envoy to look
for a workable solution to the impending conflict and to maintain peace.
As a continuation of that visit and in the aftermath of the armed
conflict in these past months, the Holy Father asked me to be a sign of
his spiritual closeness with those who have undergone the sad
consequences of war. My visit began on May 28th. Together with the
Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Filoni, I celebrated the Eucharist on three
occasions with the Catholic communities of Iraq: on May 29th in Baghdad;
on May 31st in Mosul in the Chaldean Rite; and on June 1st in the Syrian
Catholic Rite. As a result, I was able to address myself to the
Christian Community present in large numbers at each celebration,
confirming the paternal union with and encouragement of the Holy Father.
During the course of my visit, many meetings were held. Of particular
note were two meetings with more than ten bishops in attendance, during
which I made a special reflection upon the meaning of charitable
responsibility within the mission of the Church. I also had the
opportunity to meet with the bishops of other Christian Churches in
Baghdad and Mosul, as well as various civil authorities, including the
Director General of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Mr.
Francis Dubois, and the Mayor of Mosul, along with other diplomatic
representatives. Additionally, I had the chance to visit some of the
religious congregations and a few of the charitable institutions they
operate, such as St. Raphael's Hospital, a home run by Mother Theresa's
Sisters, and an institution for young girls in Mosul. Everyone expressed
their gratitude to the Holy Father for his tireless commitment to the
Iraqi people and to peace. Having experienced a great spirit of
communion and collaboration among the Christians in Iraq, I assured them
that I would relay my profound awareness of these to the Holy Father.
In fulfilling the mandate and responsibility of our Dicastery, the
Pontifical Council Cor Unum, I am able to verify personally the needs in
Iraq, with a view to a plan for assistance involving Catholic
humanitarian organizations. These have already identified some of the
areas requiring intervention, such as emergency aid, food, housing,
sanitation, and education. Various Catholic aid agencies, along with
other institutions, are intending to address these needs.
Regarding the "Declaration of the Patriarchs and the Bishops in
Iraq" of April 29th, 2003, I wish to confirm the contribution that
the Catholic Church could give toward a future in which the religious,
cultural, social, and political rights of all are recognized,
particularly those which guarantee for Christians the right to freely
profess their own Faith.
I will leave Iraq tomorrow, Tuesday, June 3rd, 2003.
Paul Josef Cordes