12/20/2017, 10.58
IRAQ
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Chaldean Patriarch: Iraqi Christians’ prayers and solidarity for Jerusalem this Christmas

In the message to the faithful Mar Sako addresses a thought to the "holy city for Christians, Muslims and Jews". An invitation to rebuild Iraq’s homes and cities recently liberated from ISIS. Christians and Muslims must rebuild their homeland "hand in hand" with a view to "tolerance and coexistence, peace and security".

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – The Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, Louis Raphael Sako has issued an invitation to Iraqi Christians “to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people, who have been suffering from injustice and displacement for 70 years” and a call “to pray for Jerusalem to remain a holy city for Christians, Muslims and Jews”, in his Christmas message to the faithful which he has shared with AsiaNews.

The Iraqi primate also reflects on  those parts of the country recently freed from the threat of the Islamic State (IS, ex Isis), he asks that “homes are restored and the liberated towns got reconstructed. This is a “big” challenge that we need to encounter reaching out to this “New Phase” based on fundamental principles".

Mar Sako remembers the past discrimination against the Christians, the threats and abuses perpetrated by the jihadists that led to an exodus of the community from their homes, from their lands in the Plain of Nineveh. An exodus that has almost halved the national Christian community, compared to 1.5 million people before the American invasion of 2003.

Today the liberation of those areas "oblige the Iraqi Government “as a foster mother for all” to work seriously for; facilitating the return of Christian to their homes and properties; preserving their rights as indigenous citizens; recognizing their culture, civilization and heritage as an essential part of Iraq's history; and preventing demographic changes in their historical geographic areas".

On the occasion of Christmas, the Chaldean primate exhorts the faithful to "to learn lessons from the past to get rid of their fears, pessimism and personal interests that divided them; clarify their visions, approaches, and unite their stances in order to consolidate their presence and their role in the public affairs and political process in a genuine national partnership away from dependency and custody".

Iraqis hope is to look at this victory as a firm step forward to: attain security and stability;  deal with the consequences that affected the general situation; put things at the right track; consolidate the foundations of true citizenship; resolve outstanding matters in a peaceful ways and through dialogue especially the "Kurdistan file"; eliminate corruption; get rid of the widespread religious discrimination; reform the current legal, political, social, educational, and economical matters by changing it radically; and to schedule elections on time.

With the hope that war and terrorism, the economic crisis and the arms race, the jihadist violence resulting in the barbarism of the IS are behind us, the prelate continues, the hope for the future is that the objectives of "security and stability" can be achieved.  The priorities identified by the Chaldean primate include: consolidate the foundations of true citizenship; resolve outstanding matters in a peaceful ways and through dialogue especially the "Kurdistan file"; eliminate corruption; get rid of the widespread religious discrimination; reform the current legal, political, social, educational, and economical matters by changing it radically; and to schedule elections on time.

The hope is that Christians can rebuild their homeland, their future "hand in hand with their Muslim brothers, because - warns the Chaldean patriarch - the future can not be built without tolerance and coexistence" to give new luster to that "beautiful mosaic that is Iraq ". This is why, he adds, "we must walk together on the path of hope" with the help and closeness of the international community. "This is our land and we want to stay here".

Finally, Mar Sako calls on the Iraqi Church to "read the signs of the times" and respond "to the frequent invocations of Pope Francis", which urges the Christian community to "deepen" the spiritual element by abandoning longing for "power and money".  Added to this are "sincere initiatives" in the direction of "unity" following the footsteps of Jesus Christ.

He concludes: "In regards to Muslims, an honest dialogue is a MUST [...] a dialogue that must go beyond formalisms" to "establish peace and security, as well as promote the values ​​of tolerance, justice, freedom and dignity for all ". (DS)

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