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Cardinal Filoni: I remember John Paul II's phone calls during bombings in Baghdad

Cardinal Fernando Filoni was a first-hand witness of the drama of war. He was apostolic nuncio in Iraq during the second Gulf War. He says the current situation reminds him a little of those times.

Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre
“I was reminded of my time in Baghdad, during the war. Due to the bombings, we were locked up, without phones. We couldn't even go outside because of the shootings.”

In the middle of that war, the cardinal and the patriarchal vicar would go out to see if the priests were still alive and if the churches were still standing.

He recalls constantly feeling John Paul II's support during those difficult moments.

Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre
“He lived these events with a lot of worry. I would update him on the situation every day. I remember those conversations in a very emotional way. I remember his solidarity and closeness. He would say, 'I heard there were bombings. How are you? Are you having any problems? What are they?' He embodied real, human solidarity.”

Cardinal Filoni was the only ambassador to remain in Baghdad during the war. He decided to stay to help local communities survive the bombings.

Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre
“I told the bishops and priests, 'We mustn’t leave. We have to stay with our people. We have to open the seminaries and schools, so anyone who wants to can take refuge, even at night.' There were many people walking around carrying small mattresses. They were Christians and Muslims, sleeping inside churches.”

Today he lives in Rome, but he hasn't forgotten those suffering in the Middle East, including the persecuted and those displaced by another pandemic of our times: war.

Daniel Díaz Vizzi

Translation: Claudia Torres