(AsiaNews) - The Chaldean Archbishopric of Kirkuk, northern Iraq, organised a
reconciliation forum today on "Building bridges of peace", on the initiative of
Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of the city. The meeting brought together Christian
and Muslims leaders, altogether some 50 people, including politicians like the
provincial governor, lawmakers, party chiefs and tribal sheiks; religious leaders
from the Shia, Sunni and Christian communities; and representatives of the Kurdish,
Arab, Turkmen and Assyrian-Chaldean communities.
The forum comes
a few days after a series of attacks left a trail of blood and destruction in
Kirkuk as well as the rest of the country. Despite the departure of US troops,
the situation has not improved and peace and security remain as elusive as
is "an opportunity for all parties" to sit around a table to talk "in a
civilised manner", Church sources in Kirkuk said. This way they can try to
solve problems and bridge divisions, thus "reducing tensions rather than make
it worse with threats."
various speeches and interventions, Mgr Sako presented a seven-point proposal
that participants signed as a joint "commitment" to dialogue and peace. An ad
hoc committee made up of individuals from various backgrounds will be set up to
evaluate the application of its principles and directives.
In his address,
Mgr Sako reiterated the principle of dialogue with Islam so that people can
live together and overcome theological issues that today are unsolvable.
For Christians, this
means adopting a language that can be "understood" by the Muslim community. At the
same time, a "secular civil society" is necessary based on "shared Iraqi citizenship."
A number of
plans are on the drawing board to achieve these goals. They include a
kindergarten for 80 children (10 per cent Muslim) and an elementary school that
should open in September.
As those behind
these initiatives note, coexistence begins in infancy.