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Pope's special envoy leaves for Iraq

August 12, 2014

Cardinal Fernando Filoni left Rome on August 12 to fly to Iraq, where he will serve as the personal representative of Pope Francis in a bid to end the slaughter of Christians by Islamic militants.

In comments before leaving Rome, Cardinal Filoni said that Christians face active persecution in Iraq today. As the death toll mounts, he said, roughly 1 million people have been driven from their homes.

Cardinal Filoni-- who gained the respect of Iraqis while serving as apostolic nuncio there from 2001 to 2006, and declining to leave Baghdad during the American bombing campaign—saw a sad irony in the fact that Christians are being driven from the land where, for “hundreds and hundreds of years, minorities and majorities have lived together.” The Christian presence is “precious in this land,” he said.

The Italian cardinal, whose regular post is as prefect of the Congregation for Evangelization, will meet with local officials as well as Church leaders in Iraq, exploring opportunities to provide aid to Christian refugees and to end the violence against them.


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