12/12/2007, 00.00
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Iraqi bishop: West, rediscover the family as a school of peace

“In Germany the Muslim women push children in prams along the streets while German women have their dogs and cats”. The provoking remark by Msgr. Louis Sako, Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk comments on Benedict XVI’s World Day for Peace message 2008.

Kirkuk (AsiaNews) – “The west is loosing all sense of family communion through its insistence on individualism” and this is a major risk to peace “the future of humanity depends on the family. Dialogue and respect for diversity is learned within the family”.  These are the words of Msgr. Louis Sako, Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk, as he reflects on the Pope’s message entitled “The Human Family, community of peace” *.

“The Holy Father – writes the bishop – chose the theme for this world day of peace because the within each of us our family context is the most important element, in good and in bad.  A Latin proverb goes: Si vis pacem, para bellum (if you want peace prepare for war).  We must change that around: if you want peace, a true, just and lasting peace, prepare the family.  Because peace, justice, and freedom lie in our ability to recognise man as our brother!  The future of humanity depends on the family.  It is within the family environment that we learn how to dialogue and respect each other in our diversity”.

The Iraqi prelate does not hold back from launching an attack on secularised Europe: “In the west the family is faced with great difficulties.  Last summer I was in Germany: on the streets I would see many Muslim women pushing prams with children, while germane women walked along in the company of their cats and dogs! The west is loosing all sense of family communion through its insistence on individualism. Here in Iraq, the idea of living alone is inconceivable. We cannot live outside of the family.  While a westerner easily accepts the condition of being single and sees only personal advantages, an easterner thinks of his family and seeks common advantages”.

And he adds: “In Christian theology, above all eastern theology, the family represents the image of the Trinity; the Holy Spirit is considered by some Syrian Fathers to be a mother.  Therefore the relationships within a family must reflect the relationship between the three beings of the Trinity.  Thus the Christian family grows, the Church grows and society is renewed.  The family is a domestic Church, but also a solid base for society.  For eastern Christians, having a family is a vocation, a blessing and a mission.  I don’t wish to make it seem that we are perfect and that the West is evil”. 

The Archbishop of Kirkuk concludes his reflections with a wish that is the hope of all Christians who live in that tormented land: “I dream of my Iraq will one day be a reconciled family and community of peace”.

*The full text of the bishop’s reflections will be published in the January 2008 edition of “World and Mission”.


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