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» 12/20/2010
IRAQ
A Christmas of mourning for Iraq’s Christians
by Louis Sako*
After the series of anti-Christian attacks, Iraq will mark Christmas again under tight security. No functions will be held on Christmas Eve, nor decorations or ceremonies. A community enduring suffering and losses is preparing to experience the message of hope brought by Jesus to earth because, for Iraqi Christians, Christmas is always a time of joy as well as martyrdom. Mgr Louis Sako, Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk, bears witness.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – Midnight Christmas Mass has been cancelled in Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk as a consequence of the never-ending assassinations of Christians and the attack against Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral on 31 October, which killed 57 people. For security reasons, churches will not be decorated. Masses will be sombre and held during the day.

A sense of sadness and mourning prevails among Christians. There is much concern for the future of young people. For the past two months, they have been unable to go to university. The same is true for many families that fled north who now must plan a future without any concrete bases.

No one expects anything from the government as far as protecting Christians. Political leaders are too caught up in setting up a new administration.

Security is slightly better in Kirkuk than in the capital, but here too abductions and threats occur. For this reason, we have decided for the first time since the war began not to celebrate Midnight Mass. We shall simply not have any feast, period. Santa Claus will not be coming for the children; there will be no official ceremony with the authorities proffering their best wishes.

For the past six weeks, we have not celebrated Mass because of a lack of security, except late in the morning and Saturday afternoons. For now, we have also stopped teaching the catechism.

We do not have the right to put people’s lives in danger. All our parish churches have security guards, but when worshippers step outside the church and into the street, they become an easy target.

Yet, despite everything, we shall pray for peace this Christmas and help the poor families of Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah. So far, 106 families have arrived from Baghdad and Mosul.

In my homily, I am going to focus on such problems, on the clashes and on people’s fears but also on the fact that Christmas brings a message of hope. Of course, heaven and earth are two different realities. The Massacre of the Innocents followed Christmas. Thus, for us in Iraq, Christmas is a time of hope and joy as well as pain and martyrdom.

Peace is a goal that people of good will should make happen. If we Christians want to be Christian and welcome Christmas and its message, we must be peacemakers, and build harmony among our Iraqi brothers and sisters.

* Chaldean bishop of Kirkuk


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See also
06/19/2007 IRAQ
Nineveh Plains project to destroy dialogue, only path for peace
by Louis Sako*
01/16/2014 IRAQ
Chaldean Patriarchate opens clinic for Christians and Muslims in Baghdad
by Joseph Mahmoud
05/10/2007 IRAQ
Christian leaders join in Patriach Delly’s Iraq appeal
06/13/2013 IRAQ
Chaldean Synod: revitalising the Christian presence in Iraq and freedom for Syrian bishops
by p. Albert Zarazeer
01/30/2014 IRAQ
Mar Sako, a year as Patriarch: unity, dialogue and mission, the challenges of the Chaldean Church
by Joseph Mahmoud

Editor's choices
ITALY - IRAQ
After raising € 350,000, 'Adopt a Christian from Mosul' campaign continues
by Bernardo CervelleraDonations raised up to 31 August have been sent to the patriarch of Baghdad and the bishops of Kurdistan. The campaign helps to feed, house, clothe, and bring comfort to more than 150,000 Christian, Yazidi, Turkmen, Shia and Sunni refugees who fled the violence of the army of the Islamic Caliphate. People in Italy and around the world have been generous, including the poor and the unemployed, a sign of hope for the world as well as those who suffer and those who give.
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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