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» 12/27/2010
IRAQ
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".


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See also
12/04/2012 IRAQ
Advent in Kirkuk: young people help poor Christian and Muslim children
by Tomaso Mammo*
01/02/2008 IRAQ
Hope for peace in Iraq voiced in New Year Mass
10/13/2009 IRAQ
Archbishop of Kirkuk: for 1600 years, Iraq has been a "country of martyrs"
12/31/2010 IRAQ
Mgr Sako: Martyrdom, the gift of the Iraqi Church to the world. More blood in Baghdad
12/28/2010 IRAQ
Christmas in Iraq’s fortressed churches

Editor's choices
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.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

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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