Conference in Rome about Iraqi Christians’ right to return

The Pontifical Foundation ACN brings together leading representatives of the Vatican and the Iraqi Christian community to claim their universal right to return to the Nineveh Plains.

On Thursday, September 28 at 9 a.m., the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) will host a conference “Return to the Roots – the international effort supporting the return of the Iraqi Christian to their villages in the Nineveh Plains” – in the Pontifical Lateranense University in Rome.

Leading representatives of the Vatican and the Iraqi Christian community including Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, the Syrian-Orthodox archbishop of Mosul Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf, the apostolic nuncio to Iraq and Jordan Archbishop Alberto Ortega Martins and the Syrian-Catholic archbishop of Mosul Youhanna Petros Mouche – will address the successes and ongoing challenges confronting the last remaining Christian community in northern Iraq.

Violently driven from their homes by ISIS three years ago, the recent liberation of the Christian villages has sparked the desire of the Christian families to return from the Kurdish regional capital of Erbil to their war-torn homes in the Nineveh Plains. ACN, responding to their appeal, is supporting the first phase of the reconstruction of over 13,000 damaged and destroyed homes. In view of the mammoth task ahead, however, ACN is calling on the international community to join forces in supporting the continued Christian presence in Iraq and thus assuring the plurality of Iraqi society.

Presided by ACN’s International President, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, presentations will include that of Cardinal Parolin addressing the Vatican position to the Christians in Iraq and the Middle East, an analysis by Archbishop Ortega of the larger regional situation, His Beatitude Patriarch Sako on the day-to-day situation confronting the Iraqi Christian IDP’s, Fr. Andrew Halemba Chairman of the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee (NRC) on the ongoing reconstruction project and return, and Steven Rashe NRC spokesman highlighting the ever present security challenges such as de-mining, Christian militia’s and conflicted political environment.

The Pontifical Foundation’s conference will be attended by government representatives, business leaders, ambassadors accredited to the Holy See and international charitable organizations interested in the latest information from the ground concerning the ongoing reconstruction and return – all amidst the tense political, religious and social climate in the country.

Since 2014 to date,  ACN has spent 36,6 million dollars to house and feed the Christian IDP’s in northern Iraq. The estimated cost for rebuilding the Christian villages is 250 million dollars.

Following the presentations, a press conference will take place at 12:00 noon in a neighboring conference room, the Sala Papa Francesco (Pontifical Lateranense University) allowing journalists the opportunity to address questions directly to the speakers.

The conference (Sala Pio XI) and the press conference (Sala Papa Francesco) will take place at the Pontifical Lateranense University, Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano 4, Rome.

For press accreditation, please send an email to Maria Lozano, ACN International Head of Press at The deadline is Wednesday 27th at 10 a.m. TV crews are also requested to provide ID’s numbers and birth dates for accreditation.

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