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Cardinal Vincent Nichols: faith can help heal in 2016

Mon 21 Dec 2015
By Hannah Tooley

Cardinal Vincent Nichols the leader of Catholics in England and Wales has said that his prayer for the New Year is that world leaders end conflicts in the Middle East.

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has raised concerns that these wars threaten to wipe out Christianity in the region entirely.

He has stressed that in the run up to Christmas many charities will be making provisions for the poor and needy and that it is important to think of the millions of Syrians suffering throughout the world.

Detailing his message in The Sunday Telegraph, Cardinal Nichols said that: "I will be thinking especially of a Christian woman I met last in April, in Erbil.

"She, like many thousands of others, had fled towns and villages of Nineveh to the safety of Iraqi Kurdistan.

"She invited me into her new home, a temporary cabin, sited along with hundreds of others in a camp on the Church ground."

He described the various icons that were hung on the walls and spoke about how the woman had been heartbroken to leave her Muslim neighbours: "remembering the tears she and her Muslim neighbour of many years shed together in the 30 minutes' grace they had been given by the advancing thugs".

"And gravely, she told me about the fate of that Muslim family now living under the hammer of the so-called Islamic State." The woman concluded that she thought she had fared better in her make-shift house than her neighbours.

The Cardinal said that he had met with people who had returned to their homes to find their places of worship destroyed and so "Christmas will now be celebrated in the local mosque".

"Later, in a show of reciprocated generosity, the birth of the Prophet Mohammed will be celebrated in the rebuilt church."

Cardinal Nichols shared his hope that trust, law, order and peace comes back to the region and described how Pope Francis, when he opened the Jubilee Year of Mercy for 2016, "asked us to see the true face of God's mercy.

"This is an important perspective - for not only is mercy much needed in our world; it is also a key attribute of God in all of these great religions."

As the year concludes the leader of Catholics in England and Wales said that he hopes people pray for Christians in Syria who have died "simply for having faith in Jesus Christ."

He added: "We ask that God forgives their killers and enlightens their minds."

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