Erbil (AsiaNews) – About 80 young Iraqis will gather at the Marian Sanctuary of Erbil, in the country’s north to pray together with the Pope who is due to meet tomorrow with young people from the diocese of Rome ahead of the upcoming World Youth Day (WYD). According to the blog Baghdadhope, the young people are Christians who live in the semi autonomous state of Kurdistan, but who are originally from varies diocese in Iraq.
The gathering was organised by the Parish priest from Chaldean parish of the Sacred Heart in Erbil, Fr. Rayan Atto, and will last 2 days. Tomorrow March 29th, the young people will hear a live broadcast of the Benedict XVI’s prayer, introduced by the same priest and translated into Arabic and Aramaic. The aim of the event is to promote the young Iraqis spiritual union with the Pope and all of the youth who will participates in the WYD 2008 in Sydney Australia. Eucharistic adoration is also on the programme, beginning late in the evening and ending at dawn of the following morning.
March 30th at 12.00 Holy Mass will be celebrated marking the end of the spiritual retreat, following this there will be a party for all these who participated. “The dream of Iraq’s young people – says Fr. Atto – is to take part in the next WYD; this would have a deeply symbolic meaning for them as well as for members of the entire Christian community which is suffering from the isolation in which Iraq still lives. But is would also have great meaning for the young Christians from all over the world who would be able to meet and confront their Iraqi brothers and sisters directly”.
Iraq’s young people have long showed the importance the WYD gathering has for them. In order to take part in the last event in Cologne in August 2005, two young boys from Mosul overcame continuous bureaucratic obstacles to make the long and arduous journey.
The hope and faith of these young people challenge the daily violence which continues to plague Iraq and it’s Christian Community. On the night of March 26th last two Chaldean nuns were killed in their home closet o Kirkuk’s Cathedral of the Virgin; the police has furnished no details, but local AsiaNews sources say the deaths are a result of a burglary.