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    » 08/08/2012, 00.00


    French youth travel to Iraq to show the solidarity of the Universal Church

    Joseph Mahmoud

    A group of 13 young men and women visit Kirkuk and Karakosh, through the initiative of local Christian families. It is an opportunity to meet and exchange in a region affected by violence and persecution. Physical proximity goes beyond words of solidarity. For Mgr Sako, such "projects lead to hope."

    Kirkuk (AsiaNews) - A group of 13 young men and women from France began a visit in northern Iraq to bring the solidarity of the Universal Church and contribute in a concrete fashion to projects based on interfaith dialogue and Islamic-Christian exchange. Their journey has taken them to local Christian communities among whom they will discover initiatives by lay people and clergy to rebuild a country marked by war and still affected by confessional violence. The visitors arrived last Saturday. Seven are staying in Kirkuk whilst the other six are in Karakosh (Nineveh Plain), in Iraqi Kurdistan.

    For the French visitors, solidarity with Iraqi Christians required their presence because physical proximity goes beyond words of solidarity.

    In Kirkuk, they were given hospitality by Archbishop Louis Sako. Their presence (pictured during Mass), locals said, "brings great help to the city's young Christians" with whom they spent entire days "praying, learning and sharing as well as moments of play and leisure." Overall, some 90 people, French and Iraqis, spent time together.

    Since they arrived, the French visitors met Kirkuk Governor Najim al-din Umar Karim who said that he admired their "courage." He thanked them for their initiative, stressing the importance of the "Church" in promoting dialogue and coexistence.

    In Kirkuk, the French youth took part in the inauguration of a private primary school dedicated to the Virgin Maria Myriam Ana, which will start classes in September. It is open to both Christian and Muslim pupils who will receive the same education and attend the same classes. This will create "good feelings" and improve "coexistence" whilst boosting work opportunities in the area.

    In Karakosh, the other group of French visitors took part in the opening of a kindergarten, which received help from Chaldean Catholic bishop Petros Moshi. 

    Later, the two groups came together to visit some villages on northern Iraq and meet local families.

    Stressing the great value of the initiative that brought European youth to Iraq to learn about its reality and Christian minority, the archbishop of Kirkuk expressed his "deepest gratitude".

    Such "projects lead to hope," Mgr Sako said. They make "all of us, "French and Iraqi, stronger" because they provide an opportunity to "deepen the faith" and "bear witness to the Good News".

    Christ, he said, "is the salvation of all of us" and any time "is an opportunity of redemption".

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    See also

    27/12/2011 IRAQ
    Next year, Christmas will be a civic holiday in Kirkuk
    The city’s governor, Najim al-din Umar Karim, announced the decision. He also said he would urge the central government to make 25 December a national holiday. More than 2,000 faithful take part in Christmas Mass. Muslim religious leaders express their best wishes. The governor urges Christians who fled abroad to come back to Iraq.

    11/06/2014 IRAQ
    Chaldean Archbishop: Christians and Muslims fleeing Mosul, occupied by Islamists
    Msgr. Nona appeals urgently for aid because supplies of food and water are running scarce. The Islamists have taken control of the city. Police and military have abandoned their weapons. Faithful, priests and nuns have left the area, the churches are closed. The prelate prays for a "strong state" that is a guarantor of peace and unity. Premier Al-Maliki declares a state of emergency.

    29/05/2012 FRANCE - IRAQ
    Iraq Church is apostolic because it is a martyr Church, says Kirkuk archbishop
    Aid to the Church in Need organised a prayer meeting attended by various Catholic figures from regions of anti-Christian persecution, including Card Zen and Paul Bhatti. For Mgr Louis Sako, faith is not the same as ideology; it is rather a sense of friendship and connection with the person of Christ. Christians must bear witness amid suffering by following the example of the first apostles.

    28/08/2012 INDONESIA
    Sampang: Four killed in clashes between Sunnis and Shiites. Criticism of Government's inaction
    Interfaith tension still high on Madura island. Eight injured and dozens of homes destroyed in yesterday’s clashes. A family feud and rivalry between groups are likely to lead to open conflict. Activists, intellectuals and civil society against President Yudhoyono and the central executive.

    31/08/2004 IRAQ - FRANCE
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