» 02/07/2014 IRAQ Chaldean Patriarch and Grand Mufti: Christians and Muslims together for Peace in Iraq by Joseph Mahmoud Mar Sako meets Sheikh Rafi Taha Al-Rifai in Sulayamaniyya, Iraqi Kurdistan. A “courtesy” visit to strengthen friendly relations between religious leaders and communities. His Beatitude speaks of the plight of Christians in reception centers and appeals for mutual "harmony".
AsiaNews) - A "courtesy" visit to strengthen relations of friendship
and "brotherhood" between the Christian and Muslim communities, as
well as to "broaden" the foundations of "joint action" to achieve the goal
of a "lasting
peace" in the country. This
was the spirit that animated the meeting between the Chaldean Patriarch Mar
Louis Raphael I Sako and Sheikh Rafi Taha Al- Rifai, the Grand Mufti of Iraq at
the Muslim religious leader's residence in Sulayamaniyya, the capital of the
governorate of al-
Sulaymaniyya, Iraqi Kurdistan.
meeting dates back to Jan. 31, but details only recently emerged on the
official website of the Chaldean
Patriarchate, describing the atmosphere of the face-to- face meeting
between the two religious leaders and common objectives that were set. The
Christian delegation also included the Apostolic Nuncio in Iraq Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the
auxiliary bishop Msgr. Shlemon
Warduni and the three new recently ordained bishops of the Chaldean Church.
Beatitude briefed the Islamic leader on the sufferings of the Christian
community, past and present, also stressing "the common task " of religious
leaders, of "sacrifice, dialogue and mutual understanding " and
action aimed at "the common good" and
"charity " as prescribed by "the dictates of Islam and Christianity".
Violence adds Mar Sako, does not solve problems, "but it is a harbinger of
Patriarch spoke of the drama "of the exodus of Christians" and the
"pain" experienced during the visit to "reception centers in Kirkuk
and Erbil" in northern Iraq. He
finally appealed to "our Muslim brothers, Sunnis and Shiites, to judge
wisely the current reality" and promote "mutual coexistence and
Rafi Taha Al- Rifai thanked Mar Sako and the Christian delegation for the
courtesy visit and stressed from the beginning of his speech, the central value
"of the person" , an element common to both religions. The
Sunni leader described relations between Muslims and Christians as
"good", characterized by "sharing" with one another even
though today there are elements that foment "divisions".
meeting between the two religious leaders is a strong signal in the direction
of peace in a country often torn by violence and that in these first weeks of
2014 has already reached a level of serious concern. Hundreds
have died since the beginning of the year, in a series of bloody attacks, tension
has now reached the levels of 2005/6: in 2013 the official death toll was