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    » 08/27/2013, 00.00

    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

    07/08/2015 IRAQ
    For Mar Sako, one year after the Mosul tragedy, only unity and reconciliation can save Iraq
    On the first anniversary of the great exodus from the Nineveh Plain, the Chaldean Patriarch addresses a letter to Iraq’s government and parliament. In it, he denounces the difficult conditions in which Christians and Yezidis still live, as well as the thousands of deaths among Muslims. Peace is the only response to the violence of extremist groups who "exploit religion".

    29/05/2015 IRAQ – IRAN
    Mar Sako: transcending war for a future of reconciliation and dialogue between Christians and Muslims
    The patriarch of Baghdad looks at the future of Christians in the Middle East, which will be "even better" when conflict ends. Through AsiaNews, he called for "patience and prayer,” highlighting the role Christians play as a "bridge" between faiths and cultures. During his pastoral visit to Iran, he met a strong community "that can grow. He also proposed a joint Christian-Islamic committee.

    06/02/2013 IRAQ - VATICAN
    Patriarch Sako : Pope appeals for Iraqi Church to be a "bridge" in encounter with Muslims
    Mar Louis Raphael I speaks to AsiaNews about the guidelines of the new mission, based on unity and dialogue beginning with a "common and reformed liturgy." Renewed cooperation among the bishops, an element of strength in discussions with political and religious leaders. The hope that the "message" of Islam will prevail and not "rules and systems."

    04/09/2014 IRAQ
    For Baghdad patriarch, Christians (and other minorities) risk extinction, calls for pluralism and unity against Islamism
    Mar Sako warns that the displaced are increasingly suffering, at risk of "genocide" and deprived of "religious, human, moral and national values." The international community and the Iraqi government must fight extremism. Christians also need to put aside the desire to emigrate and continue to be "leaven" of the earth. The struggle against the political use of religion starts with education.

    11/07/2013 IRAQ - ISLAM
    Patriarch Sako: Greetings of peace to our Muslim brothers and sisters for Ramadan
    His Beatitude Mar Raphael Louis Sako I sends a message to the Islamic community at the start of the holy month of fasting and prayer. He hopes it will be a time for doing good and for reconciliation in a country ravaged by ten years of war and violence. Patriarch calls for dialogue in order to create "one community" in the "diversity" of its various components.



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    After 24 hours of silence, China’s media today published excerpts, comments and editorials about Pope Francis’ interview with Asia Times. Although the pope did not address religious issues or Church problems, many saw the interview as an attempt to improve diplomatic relations between China and the Vatican, and advised Francis to accept Mao Zedong’s "three principles of independence" (theology, administration, jurisdiction), which would leave the power to appoint bishops in the hands of the Party. The People's Daily’s Global Times publishes an editorial on the issue.


    INDIA – PHILIPPINES
    Archbishop of Guwahati: In Asia religion is not dying, the faithful take strength from the Eucharist



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