05/04/2018, 19.10
IRAQ
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Iraq elections: Mar Sako tells Christians that voting is the only way to ensure the community’s future

Faced with challenges and changes, including demographic decline, Christians must participate in the political process. In a message to his co-religionists, the Chaldean patriarch calls on them to choose leaders who intend to "serve" Iraq and its people, noting that Iraq needs “a modern constitutional civil government” to guarantee unity and pluralism. The primate also mentions the major role Chaldeans played in the nation’s history and development.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – His Beatitude Mar Louis Raphael Sako addressed a message to the Chaldean community in Iraq and around the world a few days before Iraq’s 12 May elections, an event that will mark the country’s future.

In it, the prelate notes that, despite challenges and changes as well as demographic, social and cultural decline of the Christian presence in Iraq, this is “an urgent historical moment for Chaldeans, in particular, and Christians in general” to take part in a responsible way in the political process. To be authentic, this task must be “free from fear” that encourages emigration

This is not the first time that the primate of the Iraqi Church has spoken out on such matters, telling Christians of the importance of voting and taking active part in the country’s political life.

 “As a shepherd and a Father,” he writes, “I urge everyone, especially Iraqi Chaldeans, at home and abroad, to participate in the upcoming parliamentary election”. At the same time, he warns to vote for “those who are best suited to serve them [the voters] and Iraq.”

This means “Keeping in mind that the election is a national, moral and Christian responsibility to ensure a modern constitutional civil government that believes in pluralism and preserves the cultural and civilizational heritage of all [its] components!”

Thus, Mar Sako invites the whole Christian community to play an active role in the election and warns them to evaluate carefully the opportunity of creating a political party called the Chaldean Union (Huyada Kaldaya) because the latter could attract opportunists and boasters who have nothing to do with Christian values and heritage.

“I hope that one of the priorities of this party” would be “a strong alliance with the Assyrian, Syriac and Armenian parties, representing the Christians in the House of Representatives” and “that such a vital project will be implemented away from the interference of the Church.”

The Chaldean primate said he had hoped to see Christians in this election together in a “unified list” because "we are stronger together". Hence, he bemoans the fact that “it didn’t work unfortunately due to [some] agendas supporting some Christian parties as well as individual interests!

In this context, Mar Sako also mentions the thousands of years of history of the Chaldeans of Mesopotamia, one of the most ancient and authentic peoples who make up today’s Iraq and who have given much in terms of culture, poetry, music, law and astronomy.

Past and more recent persecutions – from the Assyrian-Armenian genocide of 1915 to the violence of extremist groups like the Islamic State group – should not be the source of any fear.

Conversely, “Emigration affects the historical presence of Christians in Iraq” and “weakens their role in society". (DS)

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