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    » 08/06/2014, 00.00

    IRAQ


    Baghdad: Iraqi Christians and Muslims pray together for peace and religious freedom

    Joseph Mahmoud


    At a tragic moment in the country's history, members of the two religions meet at Saint George Church for a joint prayer. They agree that "There is no Iraq without Christians". Mar Sako noted Christian suffering, especially in Mosul, and called on ordinary Iraqis to stand together in a show of solidarity. "We need actions" from Muslim leaders.

    Baghdad (AsiaNews) -In a tragic moment for Iraq, scene of a bloody conflict that could lead to its partition as the advance by the forces of the Islamic Caliphate is undermining the nature of the country, Christians and Muslims came together to pray for peace.

    With the slogan "There is no Iraq without Christians", Saint George Parish Church in Baghdad hosted a meeting last night, an opportunity to meet on the eve of the feast of the Transfiguration and the World Day of Prayer for Iraq, which are celebrated today.

    Muslim civil society leaders, officials from Baghdad and neighbouring cities, Christian leaders and ordinary believers gathered in the church to pray for peace and revive the desire for "unity and solidarity" in the country.

    A special prayer was also said for the Christians of Mosul, the first victims of the advancing militia of the Islamic State (formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, ISIS), which set up a Caliphate and imposed its rigid interpretation of Sharia.

    Participants waved Iraqi flags, lit candles and sang hymns of peace. They showed their support for Christians living a moment of great difficulty, as the Chaldean Patriarch pointed out yesterday in a letter addressed to Pope Francis.

    Mar Raphael I Louis Sako, who took part in the joint prayer, stressed the profound "shock about what is happening in the country."

    His Holiness added that in Mosul people "have been uprooted" from their ancestral land, "robbed and humiliated because of their Christian faith."

    He also mentioned the Sinjar massacre in which 70 Yazidi men were killed and a number of women were captured.

    For the patriarch of Baghdad, acts such as these "could happen two thousand years ago, but not today" because they "do not belong to our ethics and our traditions."

    For this reason, he invited those present, without distinction of religion, to "stand as one" to "save the country and protect the lives of innocent people."

    Mar Sako noted that Iraq is going through a crucial phase in its life and history, that "solidarity at the national, regional and international levels" is increasingly necessary to stop the conflict, the killing, and the flight of innocent civilians.

    He also called for a stronger "logic of dialogue," the only way for a true resolution of the crisis in a logic of "solidarity, trust and hope."

    "We need actions and clear and strong fatwas condemning what is happening," he said as he addressed Muslim leaders directly.

    At the end of the service, those present gathered in the church square.  Waving Iraqi flags, they denounced the logic of division based on race, ethnicity or religious belief.

    "We are all for Iraq our homeland and Iraq is for all," Muslims and Christians said in unison.

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    See also

    09/07/2009 IRAQ
    Attacks are isolated episodes to destabilise a country on its way to rebirth, Iraqi bishops say
    The situation is improving but ethnic and confessional divisions remain; they are an obstacle on the path of peace. Three attacks hit northern Iraq and the capital, killing 40 and wounding another 80. Tomorrow a group of 19 children will celebrate their first communion. The archbishop of Kirkuk calls on political leaders to show “political maturity” ahead of provincial elections.

    16/01/2014 IRAQ
    Chaldean Patriarchate opens clinic for Christians and Muslims in Baghdad
    "It is an initiative that helps spread a spirit of cooperation among all citizens" and enhance the role of Christians, "true members of this country," Mar Sako told AsiaNews. The facility is in a former retirement home in a Shia part of the capital. Muslim leaders emphasise the role of the minority in the defence "of the principles of peace and coexistence."

    13/06/2013 IRAQ
    Chaldean Synod: revitalising the Christian presence in Iraq and freedom for Syrian bishops
    This is the thrust of the paper that marked the end of the meeting held in Baghdad on 5-10 June. The Fathers call for the creation of a "competent" Christian political class, urging the faithful to be "a bridge between cultures." The Synod also stressed the importance of the ecumenical movement and calls for an "honest dialogue" with the Assyrian Church of the East. It issues special thanks to Pope Francis.

    30/01/2014 IRAQ
    Mar Sako, a year as Patriarch: unity, dialogue and mission, the challenges of the Chaldean Church
    In a pastoral letter His Beatitude recounts the first year at the helm of the Chaldeans , and presents guidelines for the future. He does not forget the difficulties, the exodus of Christians and sectarian violence. The call to revive "the original charism" that helps believers to really live the "gift" of faith. The hope of peace and thoughts for our “brothers and sisters” in Syria and Lebanon.

    01/02/2013 IRAQ - VATICAN
    New Chaldean patriarch tells AsiaNews he'll work for Christian and Iraqi unity
    The Chaldean Synod elected Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, to replace Cardinal Delly at the helm of the Iraqi Church. A "very difficult journey" lies ahead, the new patriarch said, which "will require so many sacrifices, but also a lot of hope". He hopes to see Christians "come back to Iraq." For that, the Church "must prepare the ground".



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