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» 12/19/2011
IRAQ
Kirkuk, Msgr. Sako inaugurates memorial to Christian martyrs during U.S. occupation
by Joseph Mahmoud
Louis Sako has blessed the monument that commemorates the 36 victims since Operation "Iraqi Freedom" in 2003. On the star engraved the names of the fallen, surmounted by a statue of the Sacred Heart with open arms "to bless the families." Archbishop of Kirkuk: Christians "bridge" that "unites cultures."

Kirkuk (AsiaNews) - Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk in northern Iraq, has blessed the memorial (pictured) commemorating the 36 Christian martyrs of the city, since the U.S. invasion in 2003 to today. The ceremony took place yesterday, in conjunction with the fourth Sunday of Advent, the monument bears the engraved names of all Christians who have died during these eight years, a testimony of ecumenism that distinguishes, local sources tell AsiaNews, this "multi-ethnic city at the centre of struggles for power. "

At the top of the memorial a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who is also patron of the Cathedral of Kirkuk, "with open arms" in a gesture of welcome to the faithful and "blessing and courage to the families" of victims of the war.

During the ceremony inaugurating the monument, Mgr. Louis Sako said that "the blood of martyrs is precious" and is a "gesture of reconciliation for all Iraqis", especially in recent weeks in which the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country has been completed. "We are living in preparation for Christmas - added the archbishop - which announces peace on earth for all people of good will." For this, he concludes, "we Christians are called to become a bridge" to be able to "unite all cultures."

The ceremony for the monument to Christian martyrs was also attended by five doctors of Italian origin, who arrived yesterday in northern Iraq on a humanitarian mission sponsored by Msgr. Sako. The prelate asked for their willingness to treat a group of patients, regardless of their professed religion, "a demonstration - concludes the archbishop – of the solidarity of Christians" to all citizens.

The memorial of Christian martyrs, commemorates the eight years of civil war that ensued after the American led invasion of March 2003 - "Operation Iraqi Freedom" - that overthrew dictator Saddam Hussein and unleashed a bloody internal conflict. On 15 December last, in a solemn military ceremony, the U.S. flag was lowered and with it the last 4 thousand troops in the area began their journey home where they are due to arrive before December 31. The war has cost the lives of 4500 American soldiers - and about one million dollars - and the lives of more than 100 thousand Iraqis.


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See also
04/26/2012 IRAQ
"Building bridges of peace", a project that unites Christians and Muslims in Kirkuk
by Joseph Mahmoud
05/22/2009 IRAQ
Kirkuk: young Christian teacher is freed thanks to help of Muslims
01/04/2011 IRAQ
Muslim solidarity towards Iraqi Christians
by Layla Yousif Rahema
08/10/2010 IRAQ
Mgr. Sako’s Message for Ramadan in Kirkuk
05/16/2011 IRAQ
Kirkuk: young Christian abducted, tortured and beheaded

Editor's choices
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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