» 03/21/2013, 00.00
IRAQ - VATICAN
May the pope come to Iraq in the footsteps of Saint Francis, says Patriarch Sako
Mar Louis Raphael I Sako, patriarch of the Chaldean Church, extends an invitation to the pontiff when the two met this morning in the Vatican. The Holy Father is moved by the suffering of Iraqi Christians. Dialogue with Muslims is a priority.
Roma (AsiaNews) - As Saint San Francis travelled
to the East where he met Sultan Malik al-Kamil, so we hope Pope Francis "may
come to Iraq to confirm us our faith and give our small community in the land
of Abraham courage and hope," said His Beatitude Mar Louis Raphael I Sako during
an audience with the pontiff this morning in the Vatican. "Yes," answered the
pope, "with joy." The patriarch himself told AsiaNews about his meeting
with the Holy Father before leaving this afternoon for Baghdad. The head of the
Chaldean Church was in Rome for the pope's inaugural Mass in St Peter's Square last
The prelate said that he was "struck by the
pope's simplicity and spontaneity". He was very moved when the two talked about
the tragic fate of Iraqi Christians.
"I stood before a father and a first-class
pastor," the patriarch said. "When I told him that our land had to endure 950
martyrs and 57 churches attacked, he said: 'I feel pain for you.'"
Francis also asked him about his diocese, about
vocations in his country, tormented by ten years of violence and conflict
between Shias and Sunnis.
"He asked me to pray for him," the prelate
explained. "And I invited him to visit us in Iraq. The pontiff said he looks
forward to visiting our country, which is also where Abraham began his journey.
His visit would inspire us with courage and hope."
His Beatitude Mar Luis Raphael I took advantage
of the meeting to ask the pope to speak to Muslims, meeting them the way Saint
Francis did, stressing the importance of interfaith dialogue because "When the
head of the Church speaks to the Muslim world, we Christians are shown
appreciation and respect."
"We ended by praying together," the patriarch
said, "reciting Our Father and Hail Mary for Iraq." After that, "The pope gave
his blessing to all Iraqis present, priests, men and women religious as well as
lay people." (D.S.)
Chaldean Patriarch Sako tells Church: Be united in Christ to meet the mission's challenges
His Beatitude reminds the clergy that their task is to be "priests", that they belong to the "One" Church, which is not an NGO because "its core is Christ." He reiterates that their duty is to be "servants" and "pastors" of the community, and calls for transparency and rigour in financial matters.
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Mar Sako: the Pope in Iraq is a "necessity" for Christians hoping in a Syria-like "miracle"
The Chaldean Patriarch testifies to the "need" for solidarity and closeness to Iraq's Christian community. Muslims appreciate the Pope Francis' "symbolic gestures ", which enhance his "prophetic character". For Mar Sako, the Christian presence in the Middle East is "essential" and its "identity" must be preserved. The ordination of a priest and six new deacons are source of hope in this time of Advent.
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Baghdad patriarch: pope to write a letter of hope for Iraqi Christians
This morning, the pope received Mar Sako in audience. At the request of the patriarch, Francis said he would write a special message addressed to the Iraqi Christian community. He also expressed a wish to carry out an apostolic visit to Iraq, to "eliminate the distance" and "show support of the whole Church." From the Pope prayers for the country and its people.
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Iraqi bishop: Pope’s words encourage commitment to remain in our land
For Msgr. Sako Benedict XVI's speech is a source of "encouragement". Christians are"authentic" citizens and should enjoy "all rights" and the most important is religious freedom. "Religious fanaticism" is the greatest threat to the harmonious coexistence between different faiths, peace is based on freedom.
Pope Francis tells young people that “genuine love” is not a “soap opera”, but Christians’ real identity card
In his homily for the Jubilee of Teens, Pope Francis asked questions and gave answers to the 70,000 present. Stressing the great ideal of love as giving oneself “without being possessive”, he noted that freedom is “being able to choose the good”. He warned young people “who dare not dream,” telling them that “If you do not dream at your age, you are already ready for retirement”. He also received funds raised for the Ukraine, and appealed for the release of bishops and the priests held in Syria.
Odd alliance between the US and Iranian fundamentalists
Washington is still preventing the use of US dollars in transactions with Iranian banks, preventing business with the outside world in spite of the nuclear deal. This way, the US is helping Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards, who want to torpedo the agreement in order to maintain their hold on power. Meanwhile, most Iranians hold down two or three jobs just to make ends meet. An unstable and bellicose Iran is a boon for arms sales. A report follows.
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