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    » 07/08/2011, 00.00

    IRAQ

    New ‘Three Fountains Church’ near Kirkuk, a sign of hope

    Joseph Mahmoud

    A new Chaldean church is inaugurated in the village of Sikanayan, some 10 kilometres from Kirkuk. Representatives of different religious and ethnic groups took part in the ceremony. During the function, Archbishop Louis Sako encouraged Christians to stay in the country and bear witness to their faith with confidence and courage.
    Kirkuk (AsiaNews) – A new Chaldean parish church was inaugurated yesterday in Sikanayan, a village some 10 kilometres from Kirkuk. It bears the name of Saint Paul the Apostle because the village’s Kurdish name means ‘Three Fountains’, like the Three Fountains Church in Rome built on the site where the apostle was martyred. The small settlement has about 200 homes, some still under construction. Residents were given a free land grant.

    The church was opened to the public on Monday with a Mass officiated by Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk. In his homily, the prelate encouraged Christians to remain in the country to bear witness to their faith with confidence and courage.

    Provincial leaders as well as sheikhs and imams attended yesterday’s official inauguration.

    The choir sang hymns and psalms. A joint prayer was red by an Arab Muslim sheikh, a Kurd and a Turkmen

    An imam followed this with an unrehearsed well-wishing prayer to ensure that the site will always be holy and that Christians may continue to pray and praise the Lord.

    “A church, like a mosque, is a special place to worship God in spirit and truth,” the archbishop said in his speech. “To the extent that such places reflect God’s beauty, truth, love, mercy and forgiveness, they are holy.”

    “For us, this is its vertical dimension. A Church is the ‘House of God’, but that is not enough. There is also a horizontal dimension. A church’s role is also to instil great and noble values in the hearts of the faithful, values like goodness, love, charity, honesty, generosity and cooperation, and to keep away evil, hatred and violence. In this case, a church is also a ‘House of the People’.”

    “Let us give thanks to God today in this holy place, where we worship the one God and glorify him, not only in words, but also in deeds and daily relations,” Mgr Sako said.

    “We need one another and cannot be isolated from one another, living alone, because isolation is a slow death. Openness is a sign of renewed life and growth,” he said. “Let us hope to continue our Christian presence among our brothers, Muslims and others, in stability, security and dignity.”

    “On this occasion,” the archbishop noted, “I would like to thank all those who contributed not only to this church, but also to this microcosm and to the mosaic of Kirkuk. The people of Kirkuk must remain united and work together for better times.”

    In his address, the president of the municipal council, a Turkmen, stressed the role played by Christians in Iraq’s civilisation, noting their open spirit, morality and loyalty towards Iraq.
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    See also

    19/06/2007 IRAQ
    Nineveh Plains project to destroy dialogue, only path for peace
    Kirkuk’s Chaldean archbishop explains why he is against the plan to create a Christian “canton” on the Nineveh Plains. The area lacks the necessary infrastructure to host thousands of families and would deny Iraq its only way out, a culture of pluralism and dialogue. He appeals to local Church leaders to take a clear stance on the issue for the sake of the future of the country’s Christians.

    06/08/2014 IRAQ

    Baghdad: Iraqi Christians and Muslims pray together for peace and religious freedom
    At a tragic moment in the country's history, members of the two religions meet at Saint George Church for a joint prayer. They agree that "There is no Iraq without Christians". Mar Sako noted Christian suffering, especially in Mosul, and called on ordinary Iraqis to stand together in a show of solidarity. "We need actions" from Muslim leaders.

    31/07/2008 IRAQ
    Christians and Muslims show solidarity for Kirkuk attack victims
    In the company of Sunni and Shia religious leaders as well as tribal leaders, Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, today visited in hospital the people injured in last Monday’s bomb attack. This initiative represents an additional signal of the common desire for peace and mutual forgiveness.

    04/12/2012 IRAQ
    Advent in Kirkuk: young people help poor Christian and Muslim children
    The response to the archbishop's initiative "really surprised everyone." Some of the money will go to the Sick Children's Hospital and people who need treatment and drugs. For Mgr Sako, bringing "Christ's joy to their hearts" at Christmas brings a message of "hope, dynamism and sharing".

    29/03/2012 IRAQ
    Mgr Sako urges Christians "not to fear" celebrating Easter
    For the archbishop of Kirkuk, Iraqi Christians are part of a "Church that suffers intensely". Lent is a time to reflect about the faith and, despite difficulties, open up to the world. The prelate cites a number of acts of solidarity that brought together Christians and Muslims. He urges the faithful to renew through the Gospel their enthusiasm in the faith.



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    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.


    IRAN
    Odd alliance between the US and Iranian fundamentalists

    Bernardo Cervellera

    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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