» 12/27/2010, 00.00
A gloomy Christmas in Iraq. Mgr Sako: "we will resist and we will remain"
Many liturgical functions called off, no Christmas decorations, and no celebrations after dark. The Iraqi prime minister calls attacks on Christians "a crime against national unity". An appeal for peace and solidarity among ethnic groups and religions, and a message of hope from the archbishop of Kirkuk.
Kirkuk (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A Christmas of fear and sadness for Iraqi Christians, in memory of the martyrs killed Oct. 31 in the Syrian Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad. Many masses were called off across the country, and security measures heightened. But in the midst of this also the determination expressed in a message also sent to AsiaNews by Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk. According to Middle East Concern, the celebrations were cancelled as a result of threats posted on Web sites of Islamic groups. "The decision was taken after the threats were repeated on Tuesday, December 22. The churches in Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk have decided not to put up Christmas decorations and called off ceremonies after dark”.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has called on Christians not to leave Iraq. "Attempts to keep Christians away from their homeland and their land, which clung to them through the centuries, is a great crime against national unity," al-Maliki said in a statement marking the Christmas holiday. But many churches in Mosul did not hold celebrations while in Basra the roads leading to churches were cordoned off with barbed wire, and the buildings were surrounded by security forces.
In this gloomy picture, the archbishop of Kirkuk, wants to talk about hope. "As long as we get back to each other: Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, Muslims and Christians, we resist and we stay, because Iraq without us loses its beautiful multi-identity. We remain because are committed to love and to return to each other. This is the road to resurrection, life and renewal".
Archbishop Sako recalled Oct. 31: " We live in Iraq today, a painful experience, culminating in the massacre of Our Lady of Deliverance, which have shocked Christians and Muslims together, but we are determined to withstand the ordeal. We will not give in to temptation and frustration because life is a gift from God and it is greater than the hands of evil can destroy it".
"If we go back to the essence of religion and to our common human roots, inevitably we will meet tour national fraternity in equality, justice, solidarity. Then risk will vanish and life will reflect abundantly This is good news of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ with his message of hope: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace. "
The Archbishop of Kirkuk concluded his message with an appeal for peace: "Peace is the base of all goods: we ask it in prayer and implement it with mutual love and solidarity. Then the miracle happens and we will have peace on earth for human beings and the glory of God in the highest. We both believe that God is the Lord of the impossible".
Advent in Kirkuk: young people help poor Christian and Muslim children
The response to the archbishop's initiative "really surprised everyone." Some of the money will go to the Sick Children's Hospital and people who need treatment and drugs. For Mgr Sako, bringing "Christ's joy to their hearts" at Christmas brings a message of "hope, dynamism and sharing".
Hope for peace in Iraq voiced in New Year Mass
Muslim leaders are present in the cathedral. The Chaldean bishop mentions that peace is “both a collective and a personal project” that cannot exclude others. Al-Sistani’s representative gives the prelate a golden Qur’an for Christmas.
Archbishop of Kirkuk: for 1600 years, Iraq has been a "country of martyrs"
Diocese remembers the massacre of Christians in 409 AD, in which hundreds of people were beheaded for their faith. Program includes a fast for peace, prayers, masses and a conference. Archbishop Sako: the persecutions have not stopped "the story and the journey" of Christians, strong in the Holy Spirit and the Eucharist.
Mgr Sako: Martyrdom, the gift of the Iraqi Church to the world. More blood in Baghdad
Yesterday in the capital, six bombs near Christian homes left two dead and 12 wounded. The exodus of the faithful to Kurdistan continues, in a hampered by winter. For the archbishop of Kirkuk, the martyrdom of Iraqi Christians is a gift for awakening the faith of Christians of the West. At the same time, their friendship and solidarity, helping the Iraqis to continue their faithful witness.
Christmas in Iraq’s fortressed churches
In Kirkuk and Soulaymanyia Christians crowd parishes while outside soldiers and police provide security. The wife of President Talabani distributes gifts to children.
Pope Francis tells young people that “genuine love” is not a “soap opera”, but Christians’ real identity card
In his homily for the Jubilee of Teens, Pope Francis asked questions and gave answers to the 70,000 present. Stressing the great ideal of love as giving oneself “without being possessive”, he noted that freedom is “being able to choose the good”. He warned young people “who dare not dream,” telling them that “If you do not dream at your age, you are already ready for retirement”. He also received funds raised for the Ukraine, and appealed for the release of bishops and the priests held in Syria.
Odd alliance between the US and Iranian fundamentalists
Washington is still preventing the use of US dollars in transactions with Iranian banks, preventing business with the outside world in spite of the nuclear deal. This way, the US is helping Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards, who want to torpedo the agreement in order to maintain their hold on power. Meanwhile, most Iranians hold down two or three jobs just to make ends meet. An unstable and bellicose Iran is a boon for arms sales. A report follows.
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