In an exclusive interview with Zenit, Bishop Saad Sirop Hanna said: “Iraq needs a visit from the Pope. Iraq is a very important country as a ‘biblical’ country. So many prophets, Abraham, and many other prophets came from Iraq. The people of Iraq are suffering, the Christians as a minority, as a very small community, are suffering.

“The Pope expressed his support for all these minorities, always, in a very clear way. Iraq needs to get attention. But the visit should be very well organised and studied, not to give credit to a part or another part, not to be politicised. It should be a very religious, very Christian visit. It should also give importance to the community that is suffering and living all this pressure in this country. I think it is a very good idea, but should be studied and well organised.”

Pope attacks those who ‘twist’ the truth

During his Palm Sunday homily Pope Francis said: “It (the cry of those who shout out: “Crucify him!”) is not spontaneous but already armed with disparagement, slander and false witness. It is the voice of those who twist reality and invent stories for their own benefit, without concern for the good name of others. The cry of those who have no problem in seeking ways to gain power and to silence dissonant voices. The cry that comes from ‘spinning’ facts and painting them such that they disfigure the face of Jesus and turn him into a ‘criminal’. It is the voice of those who want to defend their own position, especially by discrediting the defenceless. It is the cry born of the show of self-sufficiency, pride and arrogance, which sees no problem in shouting: ‘Crucify him, crucify him’.

“This is how the celebration of the people ends up being stifled: Hope is demolished, dreams are killed, joy is suppressed; the heart is shielded and charity grows cold.”   

‘Eyes and ears’ against modern slavery

Bishop Patrick Lynch said Catholics can be ‘eyes and ears’ in the fight against modern slavery. According to official figures there are approximately 13,000 people trapped in modern slavery in Britain. Lynch added that Catholics should the authorities to the “vile trade” of human trafficking.

He said that “the increase, particularly around the number of young people being exploited by criminal gangs, shows that every day in and around the UK, innocent men, women and children are being sold for profit and forced to undertake activities against their will”.

(Compiled by Fr Joe Borg)


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