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 WAR.
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