VATICAN PREPARING FOR POST-WAR RECONSTRUCTION IN IRAQ

Vatican, Apr. 4 (CWNews.com) - The Holy See is making plans to participate in the post-war reconstruction of Iraq.

The Vatican has announced that all funds received in collections taken up on Holy Thursday in the churches of the Rome diocese will be used to provide relief for war victims in Iraq.

Each year, the collection on Holy Thursday is devoted to a particular project designated by the Pope. Usually the funds are sent to some country that has been touched by war or natural disaster.

The Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Pope's charitable agency, has been following the humanitarian situation in Iraq carefully, officials have indicated. Cor Unum is prepared to work with Caritas International, to provide relief services as quickly as possible. Informed sources suggest that Archbishop Paul-Josef Cordes, the president of the Pontifical Council, may travel to Iraq as soon as conditions there allow a visit, to supervise the relief effort.

The funds collected on Good Friday in the churches of Rome are traditionally sent to the Holy Land. That practice will continue this year, with Cardinal Ignace Moussa Daoud-- the prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches-- making an appeal to all the world's bishops for help on behalf of the Christians of the Holy Land.