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New Custodian of the Holy Land

May 20, 2016. Friar Francesco Patton is the new Custodian of the Holy Land. He succeeds Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who was in office for the last 12 years. Friar Francesco Patton is 52 years old from Vigo Meano (Italy). He graduated in Communication Sciences from the Pontifical Salesian University of Rome and until now was the provincial minister of the Order of Friars Minor in Saint Vigilius of Trent.

Iraqi Christians flee their homes without even blankets or water

2014-07-11

For thousands of Iraqis, life changed in an instant. Fighters from the Islamic State, a terrorist group, captured several cities in northern Iraq, forcing civilians to flee the fighting, often with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

PATRICK NICHOLSON
Caritas Internationalis
"What Caritas is trying to do is provide them with beds, with blankets, with food. And then also, it works through volunteers, so it's training the volunteers in first aid, so that they can provide any medical assistance.”

The situation is also challenging for those who chose to stay. Cities, like Mosul, are the mercy of ruthless militants.

MARTA PETROSILLO
Aid to the Church in Need (Italy)
"The Chaldean archbishop of Mosul said that he had never seen something like this: the city of Mosul, a prisoner of chaos, with the army that abandoned the region. The Church has responded to this emergency, helping nearly 1000 refugee families, and not just Christians.”

PATRICK NICHOLSON
Caritas Internationalis
"Caritas Iraq has reached 200 families so far, and aims to reach another one thousand families in the coming days.”

Jihadist fighters, also known as ISIS, control parts of Iraq and Syria, and have displayed great cruelty, even crucifying their opponents. Pope Francis admitted that he cried when he heard about this practice. As the terrorist group expands  its control, Christians feel especially vulnerable.

MARTA PETROSILLO
Aid to the Church in Need (Italy)
"We know that there have been many attacks and anti-Christian crimes in Syria. The Iraqi community fears similar attacks from jihadists: decapitations, rape, murder. We're also heard of them forcing Christian women in certain places to wear a veil.”

According to the UN refugee agency, the fighting displaced nearly half a million people. Thousands have faced multiple tragedies in few years: they fled to Syria when sectarian violence escalated in Iraq. Then, the Syrian Civil War forced them to return. Now, they are victims, yet again, of bloody fighting.


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