On my first trip to Iraq, I visited all 6 dioceses in the northern region of Kurdistan. I spent an afternoon at a parish and the Mar Aoraha Chaldean shrine in the diocese and region of Zakho, the northwestern-most part of Kurdistan. In this photo, the pastor is indicating the shrine and telling me that, beyond the sign we are looking at, is the precise geographical point where Iraq, Turkey and Syria meet. Turkey and Syria, of course, are the two countries most affected by today’s earthquake.
Syria on the far left, Turkey on the right
Some photos of the shrine and adjacent area –
POPE SENDS TELEGRAMS TO EARTHQUAKE-RAVAGED TURKEY AND SYRIA
Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin sent two separate telegrams today in Pope Francis’ name to Abp. Marek Solczyński, apostolic nuncio in Turkey and to Cardinal Mario Zenari apostolic nuncio in Syria, for the devastating earthquakes that have caused great loss of life and untold damage to structures.
The telegram to Abp. Solczyński said the Pope “was deeply saddened to learn of the huge loss of life caused by the earthquake in the area of south-eastern Türkiye, and he sends the assurance of his spiritual closeness to all those affected. Entrusting those who have died to the loving mercy of the Almighty, he sends heartfelt condolences to those who mourn their loss. His Holiness likewise prays that the emergency personnel will be sustained in their care of the injured and in the ongoing relief efforts by the divine gifts of fortitude and perseverance.”
In the separate telegram to Cardinal Zenari in Syria, the Holy Father expressed his sadness at “the significant loss of life caused by the earthquake in the area of north-western Syria,” and offered “heartfelt prayers for the souls of the deceased and for all who mourn them. Entrusting those affected by this disaster to the providence of the Almighty,” he offered prayers “in particular for the emergency personnel involved in the ongoing relief efforts” and he invoked “upon the long-suffering Syrian people the divine blessings of strength and peace.”
POPE ON PLANE: “ENTIRE WORLD IS AT WAR AND IN SELF-DESTRUCTION”
Sunday afternoon, February 5, on the flight from South Sudan back to Rome, Pope Francis was joined by Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and Rev. Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the Church of Scotland for the traditional in-flight press conference with the 70 plus journalists on the papal plane.
The Pope answered questions on the criminalization of homosexual people, the late Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, an agreement signed in 2016 between the Holy See and the DRC on education and health, the United Nations and models of intervention (is a new one needed?), the war in Ukraine (would the Pope meet with Putin?), papal health, his energy, future trips in an era of “globalization of indifference.”
Vatican News carried a lengthy summary of the press conference: Pope: ‘Entire world is at war and in self-destruction’ – Vatican News