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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
09/04/2014 IRAQ
For Baghdad patriarch, Christians (and other minorities) risk extinction, calls for pluralism and unity against Islamism
by Louis Raphael I Sako *

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

Editor's choices
IRAQ-VATICAN
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul": Archbishops’ thanks as first aid arrives
by Amel NonaMsgr. Amel Nona, the Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, who is also a refugee himself, thanks all the donors to the AsiaNews campaign. The situation is increasingly difficult given the huge number of refugees and the arrival of winter and snow, making outdoor shelters and tents impossible. The crisis, an occasion that activates the faith of Christians.
ITALY - IRAQ
After raising € 350,000, 'Adopt a Christian from Mosul' campaign continues
by Bernardo CervelleraDonations raised up to 31 August have been sent to the patriarch of Baghdad and the bishops of Kurdistan. The campaign helps to feed, house, clothe, and bring comfort to more than 150,000 Christian, Yazidi, Turkmen, Shia and Sunni refugees who fled the violence of the army of the Islamic Caliphate. People in Italy and around the world have been generous, including the poor and the unemployed, a sign of hope for the world as well as those who suffer and those who give.
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.

Dossier
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pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
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by Bernardo Cervellera
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