John Newton and Marta Petrosillo
Money from the sale of a Lamborghini donated by the Pope will help Iraqi Christians forced from their homes by jihadist group Daesh (ISIS).
Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need received €200,000 (more than £170,000) to help displaced Christian families on the Nineveh Plains rebuild their villages from the sale of a custom-built Lamborghini given to Pope Francis.
ACN will use the money from the sale of the Huracán Coupé to fund the reconstruction of two Syriac Catholic buildings destroyed during the fighting – a parish nursery school and multi-purpose centre in Bashiqa village, 18 miles (30 km) from Mosul. The village was badly damaged during the conflict, but 405 of the 580 homes that were destroyed have been rebuilt and around 50 percent of the Christians (1,585 people) have returned.
The multi-purpose centre, which has capacity for more than 1,000 people, will be used for weddings and other celebrations by members of the different religious and ethnic communities in the area.
Pope Francis announced his decision to auction the white and gold car donated to him by the Italian carmaker and give part of the proceeds to ACN when he received the gift on 15th November 2017. But a €715,000 final bid at a Sotheby’s auction in Monaco in May 2018 failed to materialise and the sale fell through.
To ensure money was raised for the causes the Pope wanted to support – including displaced Christians returning to their villages in Iraq – Lamborghini launched a lottery for the car, which can reach speeds of 198mph. Tickets went on sale at $10 (c. £8) in December 2018, and the competition ran until the end of January 2019.
This is not the first time that Pope Francis has supported ACN’s work in Iraq. In 2016 he gave €100,000 (more than £86,000) in support of Saint Joseph’s Clinic in Erbil, which provides free medical help for IDP families who had sought shelter in the Kurdish capital.
Many of the IDPs have now returned to their homes.
By 11th January 2019, at least 9,108 families had gone back to their villages – almost 46 percent of the 19,832 families living there in 2014 before the arrival of Daesh.
Since 2014 ACN has given more than €14 million (£12 million) in support of Iraqi Christians, including help to rebuild houses, churches and other buildings in Christian towns and villages.
Read more about ACN: www.acnuk.org