06/20/2016, 18.06
IRAQ
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Chaldean Church meets in Erbil to reflect on the challenges of the mission at a time of Jihadism and migration

The Chaldean Church opened a two-day meeting today in the presence of the patriarch, bishops, and priests. The latter have to bear witness to Christ “not with his words, but with his examples." Last week’s day of fasting and praying in solidarity with Muslims on Ramadan was successful. Some US$ 50,000 have been allocated for displaced people from Anbar and Fallujah.

Erbil (AsiaNews) – The Chaldean Church opened a two-day meeting today to reflect upon the work of evangelisation and the role of priests in the community. The event is taking place in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan where hundreds of thousands of Christians have found shelter after fleeing Mosul and the Nineveh Plain following their seizure by the Islamic State (IS) group in the summer of 2014.

The goal of the meeting is to breathe new life in the Iraqi Church’s pastoral outreach and in its mission in the country and among the Diaspora by boosting “our faith and hope”, and taking responsibility for what is happening in a country and region, which have been subjected to “pillage, devastation, violence and migrations.”

In a note posted on the website of the Chaldean Patriarchate, signed by Mar Louis Raphael Sako, the meeting of the Chaldean hierarchy is presented as an opportunity to reflect upon on Iraq’s "rapid political and social changes" in the last decade.

Since the US invasion and the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, the country has experienced a change that has "affected all walks of life." The political, social and human upheaval has affected "the very life of priests". In this Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, this has itself become a starting point to renew the mission.

The future of the Chaldean community is based largely on the quality of its clergy. This is why the meeting in Erbil provides local Church leaders an opportunity "to find a new approach" to meet challenges and the needs of the faithful "at home and in the Diaspora."

In addition, new ways to experience the priestly path must be found. This requires proper training from a cultural and psychological perspective.

“Priests must be witnesses of Christ," the post said, live with their people, sharing His heart "not with His words, but His examples."

The meeting will hopefully “boost the mission and be a source of consolation for the survival of the Iraqi Christian community and its fidelity to Christ’s calling”.

Yesterday, the Chaldean Patriarchate noted the success of last Friday’s day of fasting and prayer held in "solidarity" with Muslims in the holy month of Ramadan.

Fasting and praying are "a message of love and brotherhood," patriarchate sources said. They are “a sign of respect between Muslims and Christians, as well as a rejection of extremist ideology, divisions, and hatred".

The call by Mar Sako and the Chaldean hierarchy to share a meal was welcomed "in many churches in Baghdad and across Iraq", in spite of some controversy over the opportunity to partake in another faith’s practice.

On the day of fasting and prayer, the Chaldean Patriarchate also decided to allocate US$ 50,000 to buy food and other essential items for displaced, mostly Muslim families from Anbar and Fallujah. Many Christian families in the capital agreed with the step and “silently gave a helping hand to prepare the aid”.

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