(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.
the French visitors, solidarity with Iraqi Christians required their presence because
physical proximity goes beyond words of solidarity.
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.
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.
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.
Karakosh, the other group of French visitors took part in the opening of a kindergarten,
which received help from Chaldean Catholic bishop Petros Moshi.
the two groups came together to visit some villages on northern Iraq and meet
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
"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".
he said, "is the salvation of all of us" and any time "is an opportunity of