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» 08/27/2013
IRAQ
Patriarch Sako calls on Christians not to flee Iraq
During a pastoral visit to the Diocese of Zakho and Emmadea (Kurdistan), the Chaldean patriarch urged all the churches to help families in difficulty. For the prelate, the Christian presence is crucial for the future of the country. Calling on Christians not to leave the country, he mentioned the story of Romtha (Mosul), a village reborn thanks to the efforts of 35 Christian families.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - "Help Christian villages in the north of Iraq," pleaded Mar Rapheal Luis Sako I, patriarch of the Chaldean Church, during his pastoral visit to the Joint Diocese of Zakho and Emmadea on 15-23 August.

Some 40 local villages and towns face a major crisis because of Shia-Sunni confrontation in Iraq and Syria. Already hampered by the lack of water and electricity, residents have almost no access to medical care in hospitals or clinics.

"These villages are in dire need, and we call on our benefactors, from all the dioceses and Chaldean churches, to help the Christian population, because their presence is very important," the patriarch said.

In recent months, the diocese of Mosul, Kirkuk, Zackho, Emmadea and Erbil have experienced first-hand the Shia-Sunni conflict in Syria, the confrontation between Iraq's central and provincial governments over oil resources and the attacks by Muslim extremists against civilians, including Christians.

In recent years, hundreds of families have fled the country finding refuge in the West or in other countries of the Middle East. At the same time, many thousands of Syrian Muslim Kurds fled to Iraqi Kurdistan.

In a pastoral letter to the Christians of northern Iraq, the Chaldean patriarch stressed the importance of the Christian presence, them to resist and not to flee.

"Christians in Kurdistan are indigenous citizens," he explained. "They have deep roots that cannot be eradicated for they go back two thousand years. Several of them have sacrificed their lives along with their Muslim brothers for freedom, dignity, and coexistence."

For Patriarch Sako, Christians are a key factor in preserving the cultural and religious pluralism that for centuries characterised Iraq, the cradle of the first civilisation and home of the first diocese.

"I invite you to participate actively in all aspects of life: cultural, political, and social," the prelate said.

However, it is with sorrow that he also spoke about the great exodus of the Christian population, reduced in almost a decade from one million to less than 400,000.

"Do not sell your homes and your land. They are your fathers' legacy. You must keep your land forever instead of becoming migrants and foreigners in the diaspora."

As an example, the patriarch mentioned the story of the village of Akra.

"In my visit to Mosul," he said, "I met 35 families from Akra, who moved to Duhok where they bought a village called 'Romtha'. Here they built their homes, a church, a community hall and a school and started to farm the fields. "

"Do not be afraid of difficulties," the patriarch said, "because they renew and elevate your presence."


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See also
02/06/2013 IRAQ - VATICAN
Patriarch Sako : Pope appeals for Iraqi Church to be a "bridge" in encounter with Muslims
by Dario Salvi
07/11/2013 IRAQ - ISLAM
Patriarch Sako: Greetings of peace to our Muslim brothers and sisters for Ramadan
by Mar Louis Raphael I Sako
06/13/2013 IRAQ
Chaldean Synod: revitalising the Christian presence in Iraq and freedom for Syrian bishops
by p. Albert Zarazeer
07/15/2014 IRAQ
Baghdad Patriarch calls on parliament to save the country from division
01/30/2014 IRAQ
Mar Sako, a year as Patriarch: unity, dialogue and mission, the challenges of the Chaldean Church
by Joseph Mahmoud

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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