“WE ARE VERY grateful to Pope Francis for making this fatherly gesture. The Pontifex is the father of the whole Church and thinks of everyone, particularly those who are suffering as greatly as we are.”
This is how the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon, Louis Raphaël I Sako, responded to the news that the one-of-a-kind Lamborghini Huracan—which the car-maker had given to the Pope last fall—had been auctioned off May 12, 2018 for approx. $840,000. In accordance with the Pope’s wishes, the proceeds are being used for charitable purposes, with a large portion of the total going to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) to support projects helping to rebuild the Christian villages on the Nineveh Plains in Iraq.
“The Pope never stops showing Iraqi Christians that he is there for them,” the patriarch said, adding: “This gift fills us with great hope and is a source of tremendous encouragement! It is important for us to remain here, to resume our lives in Iraq and to bear witness to our faith and to the values of the Gospel there.”
Our work to help to rebuild Christian villages on the Nineveh Plains have made it possible for a large number of Christians to return to their homes. As of May 7, 2018, the number of families having returned to the Nineveh Plains totaled 8,768, which is more than 45 per cent of the 19,452 families who had been forced to flee as the Islamic State invaded the region in August of 2014.
“We will be able to do even more with the gift of the Pope. I thank the Holy Father with all my heart, but at the same time ask all who are able—even if it is only in a very small way—to help support the Christians on the Nineveh Plains, the people who represent the roots of our faith.”
On May 12, 2018, just as the Lamborghini went on the auction block, parliamentary elections were held in Iraq. The final election results are not in yet, but projections show the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the lead and possibly in position to become the country’s next prime minister. “Al Sadr has always shown himself to be very sympathetic to minorities, but if he wins, we will first have to see with whom he forms a coalition. Voter turnout was very low because Iraqis have lost their faith in politicians. There is a lack of concrete programs and projects and corruption is very widespread. Confusion prevails, but we hope that the new political leadership will do good and, first and foremost, find a way to unite such a severely divided country as Iraq.”
Since ISIS began to advance in northern Iraq in June 2014, ACN has donated $44M for emergency aid and humanitarian projects in Iraq. We are currently the most actively involved aid organization on the Nineveh Plains.