10/03/2017, 13.59
ITALY – IRAQ
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Bishop Warduni: "unity and dialogue" from the Chaldean Synod for the future of Christians and Iraq

The leaders of the Chaldean Church are set to meet in Rome from 4 to 8 October to discuss the Kurdish referendum and the return of Nineveh refugees. The situation is generally "not good" at a time of "great need". What is needed is "wisdom, common sense and love".

Rome (AsiaNews) – Mgr Shlemon Audish Warduni, auxiliary bishop of Baghdad, spoke to AsiaNews on the eve of the Synod of the Chaldeans, scheduled for 4-8 October in Rome (Italy). He hopes that the Iraqi Church will be "one, united, and alive," ready to "make sacrifice for others," open to "dialogue," and to walk "in truth, heart and mind".

The issues that the meeting will cover include the recent referendum on Kurdish independence, which has already caused profound divisions in Iraq, and the situation of Christians in the Nineveh Plain after the defeat of the Islamic State group in Mosul.

The Synod of the Chaldean Church comes at a time of "great need," said the bishop, because "the situation in general is not good". In view of this, our prayers go to God to "enlighten Iraq’s [political] leaders and guide them for the good for the nation."

The country’s wealth, he noted, "belongs to everyone" and "we must not look at our own interests, and hang on to money." What we need is "wisdom, common sense and love" whilst paying attention to the well-being of "children, young people and our elderly people".

The auxiliary bishop of Baghdad is a prominent leader of the Iraqi Church. He explained that the Chaldean clergy and Christians "are waiting for answers from this meeting." For our part, we want to "offer the faithful the value of unity and love of the Church".

This is a necessity as well as a goal "for a Church that is dispersed in so many nations and is subject to constant attacks and challenges". In addition, the Church has a shared pastoral mission of "helping those in difficulty and need" in material and spiritual terms.

On 25 September, the Kurdistan Autonomous Government held a referendum on independence in northern Iraq, which ended with an overwhelming victory for the Yes camp (more than 90 per cent).

Voting was also held in the disputed city of Kirkuk, triggering a reaction by the central authorities in Baghdad and by other Mideast powers, opposed to Kurdish separatism, with the sole exception of Israel.

"The invitation of the Chaldean Church is that of dialogue, of understanding through exchange," said the right-hand man of Chaldean Patriarch Mar Louis Sako.

"We want the good of Iraq, of each Iraqi citizen, and we hope that everyone can find a peaceful way of meeting and exchanging. Personally, I pray and I hope. I hope that [the parties] will show patience and calm, preserving the value of unity."

Finally, Bishop Mgr Warduni spoke about the Synod, which opens tomorrow in Rome. "My hope is that the Iraqi Church will be close to the faithful through dialogue and open hearts. And that she may learn from the history of the universal Church, which shows that where there is unity and love there is also the basis to continue the mission."

Along with the Sisters Churches of the East, the prelate hopes that the Chaldean Church "can contribute to the path of peace" for the country and the Middle East region. (DS)

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