Rome (AsiaNews) - Against a background of violence and devastation across the Middle East, "what saves Christian families and helps them survive is prayer," said Mar Raphael I Louis Sako, Chaldean Patriarch of Iraq.
The prelate spoke about their faith and courage on Saturday at a conference dedicated to the families in the Middle East. Organised by the International Family Centre in Nazareth, a Vatican Foundation, the event was held on the sidelines of the ongoing Extraordinary Synod on the family.
"Christian families are an example," the patriarch of Baghdad said, "a light and hope for Muslim families because they do not practice monogamy, because they are the union of a man and a woman, because women have their role and dignity. I have heard many time some Muslims say that we are like flowers to them."
Faced with the tragedy and the barbarism by Islamic caliphate militias, Mar Sako said he understood why "so many would like to leave. But we shall stay. We must stay because we believe in our mission of evangelical witness. Let us not forget that not all Muslims are with ISIS. God created us different from one another and this requires us to engage in courageous dialogue with our Muslim brothers."
Other patriarchs from the Eastern Catholic Churches attended the conference. Fouad Twal, Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Arab countries, focused on the victims of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"Who will rebuild the human element of the people of Gaza?" he asked. "What kind of families today's youth will form tomorrow after living through three wars? Will they be unions based on violence or affection? Many questions, but at present there are no answers."
Noting that the "140,000 Syrian Catholics who fled fled Mosul in early August found refuge in Kurdistan," Ignatius Youssif III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, stressed the willingness of these families to "live in this land with the dignity of men and women."
Sadly though, "After the Armenian genocide another exodus and slaughter is in the making," he added. (GM)