The Pope has now begun a much-anticipated five day trip to Iraq to meet Christian and other faith leaders. In the Vatican party accompanying him is Regina Lynch, ACN’s International Head of Projects, who will be on hand to highlight how ACN benefactors have loyally supported the Christian community since 2014, including the rebuilding of the Church of the Immaculate Conception (Al Tahira) in Qaraqosh, where Pope Francis will pray the Angelus.
He will hear from ACN Project partner, Archbishop Bashar Warda, Erbil, of the priorities for the Christians who remain as the faithful remnant, and ambitious plans to improve prospects for young people by growing the small Catholic University of Erbil.
To mark the Pope’s visit to Iraq, ACN has revealed that key projects in the country funded by a donation from the pontiff have been completed.
Christians in Bashiqa, 18 miles (30 km) from Mosul, who were forced out of their homes on the Nineveh Plains by Islamist extremist group Daesh (ISIS), were helped by a donation of €200,000 (more than £170,000) given to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) by Pope Francis.
The papal donation – which was raised by the auction of a Lamborghini sports car presented to the Pontiff in November 2017 – was used to fund the completion of two projects in Bashiqa, which suffered massive damage during both Daesh’s seizure of the town and subsequent battles to retake the Nineveh Plains.
Syriac-Catholic Bishop Yohanna Boutros Mouche of Mosul and parish priest Father Rezqallah Alsimanni said that they were overjoyed that these projects had been completed in time for Pope Francis’s visit.
They told the charity: “We are delighted to have finished work on Our Lady’s kindergarten, which will help and encourage our children to return to Bashiqa and resume their education.”
As of January 2020, 371 Christian families had come back to Bashiqa, representing nearly 59 percent of the total number of Christian families living in the town before it was seized by Daesh.
The donation to help Bashiqa was not the first time that the Pope has supported ACN’s work in Iraq. In 2016 Pope Francis gave €100,000 (more than £86,000) to help Saint Joseph’s Clinic, Erbil, which was providing medical help for IDP families who had found refuge in the Kurdish capital after being driven from their homes.
Thanks for all you have done – the benefactors of ACN have been wonderful. The needs are immense and ACN is committed to standing with those Christians who are surviving in our ancient Biblical homeland of faith.
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