Thousands of believers have come together to offer support for persecuted Christians in the Middle East, inspired by the words of Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the personal envoy of Pope Francis to Iraq. In an interview with CNA, Mauricio Artieda, the director of Catholic-Link, discussed the “20 Days for Peace” campaign, which Catholic-Link launched to urge people to pray for the difficult situation faced by Christians in Iraq and Syria. He said the purpose of the campaign was to let Christians in the region know, through Cardinal Filoni, that they are “not alone” in the midst of adversity and persecution. “Cardinal Filoni told us, 'Don't leave them alone. Hurry, make haste so they are aware of your presence.' So we launched a campaign of 20 days of making offerings through the social networks, where you could offer everything from having a Mass said to praying a rosary or doing an act of charity, and the last day, we invited everyone to show what they had done in a concrete way, by posting a photo of themselves holding a sign that says, 'You are not alone',” Artieda told CNA. The result is an emotional, five minute-long video of support and affection for the Christians of Iraq and Syria, while Psalm 27 is recited, which recounts the persecution of the children of God and certainty that God will hear their supplications. Artieda planned to give the video to Cardinal Filoni. He said the power of prayer should not be underestimated and he encouraged continued prayers for those in difficulties. “Prayer has a power, a mystery and fruits that can work through a person's heart by way of a particular grace or strength to face difficulties. I am convinced that the Lord, in this sense, hears the prayers of us all, and they are a force that undoubtedly sometimes do more than economic aid,” he said. “Sometimes when there is a risky situation or war, and there are people who pray or make an offering, we ask ourselves, what are you concretely doing for these people? Some people think prayer is just a way to clear your conscience but in no way is that the case,” Artieda continued. “In other words, if you really believe that they are children of God and that they are experiencing a difficult situation, I am sure that the prayers of many Christians will reach God.” He emphasized that God's help “is going to be there” because “there is a mystery in prayer that the Church always conveys to us and which we always must be open to. Who knows if the situation in Syria and Iraq could have been much worse. Or who knows if there have been conversions,” he said.
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