Cardinal Dolan in Iraq. Photo: Tom Gallagher at the National Catholic Reporter
Timothy Cardinal Dolan traveled to war-torn northern Iraq to lift the spirits of Christian families persecuted by ISIS and displaced from their homes.
“Please, hear us say we love you, we need you, we cannot forget you,” Dolan told the faithful Saturday at the St. Peter Patriarchal Seminary in Erbil, the last Christian seminary in the country, according to the Catholic News Agency.
Dolan led a delegation of Catholic officials from New York, and encouraged the flock to reject the notion that the church is dead in Iraq.
“We say to you no. Here is where the church is alive,” he proclaimed. “You, you will be the apostles. You will be the heralds. You will help convert the world. You are teaching us.”
Dolan’s visit was intended to show solidarity with Christian families, church leaders and priests who have suffered at the hands of ISIS since the group began taking over large swaths of the country in 2014.
On his first full day in Iraq, Dolan toured several different church-run projects that help Iraqi Christians.
He visited a cramped displacement camp in the town of Ain Qawa that has been home to hundreds of Christian families for the past two years, and listened to their stories of suffering. Dolan also visited a school run by the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena along with two kindergartens overseen by the order.
He then visited a medical center for the chronically ill, celebrating Mass with them.