Cardinal Dolan Visiting Iraq to Show Support for Displaced Christians

The visit will assert “the Christian commitment” to supporting all those who have been wounded by ISIS including Christians, Muslims and Yazidis.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan. (photo: Bohumil Petrik/CNA)

ERBIL, Iraq — This week Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and chair of Catholic Near East Welfare Association, will travel to Iraqi Kurdistan in order to offer support to families displaced by extremist violence.

The news of the cardinal’s visit came in an April 5 news release from the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), which he chairs. CNEWA is an agency of the Vatican, the group works to offer humanitarian and pastoral support to Eastern Catholic churches.

He will be joined by CNEWA board member Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar, and the Executive Director of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of New York, Msgr. Kevin Sullivan. CNA will also be part of the delegation.   

According to the news release, the purpose of the visit is fourfold. Firstly it is meant to “demonstrate solidarity with the families — many of whom are Christian — displaced when ISIS swept through northern Iraq in summer 2014.”

As part of the visit, the delegation will meet with displaced families who have taken refuge in camps and villages; visit schools, nurseries and clinics serving these families’ needs; and will pray the Divine Liturgy together.

The visit is also aimed at showing solidarity with the priests, religious sisters and laity who, although being displaced themselves, have taken initiative in meeting the needs of those forced to leave their homes.

Specific attention will be given to the parish priests and sisters who have partnered with CNEWA in setting up schools, nurseries and clinics.

Demonstrating closeness and solidarity with local Church leaders is also a priority for the trip. As such, the delegation will spend time meeting with the patriarchs and bishops of the Chaldean and Syriac Catholic churches, as well as the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Assyrian Church of the East.

The final goal of the visit is to assert “the Christian commitment” to supporting all those who have been wounded by ISIS: Christians, Muslims and Yazidis included.
Cardinal Dolan’s visit to Iraqi Kurdistan marks the start of year-long observances for the 90th anniversary of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.