01/23/2016, 13.15
IRAQ
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Patriarch Sako: the ministry of lector for 40 men and women, a sign of a living Iraqi Church

Yesterday, 40 men and women received the lectorate in Baghdad’s Cathedral of St Joseph. The Chaldean Patriarch emphasised women’s role in the community. For Mgr Yaldo, more than 600 people came together "in an atmosphere of serenity and sharing”. The celebration is part of planned events for the Year of Mercy.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – "For 40 men and women, the ministry of lector (reader) is a time of great celebration for the Chaldean Church, a living community, for both sexes. As Pope Francis recently noted, we must pay more attention to women, not marginalise them, and we have listened,” said Chaldean Patriarch Raphael Mar Louis Sako.

Thrilled and pleased by yesterday morning’s celebration in Baghdad’s Chaldean Cathedral of St Joseph, the prelate spoke to AsiaNews about an event the confirms the vitality of Iraq’s Christian community despite years of persecution, violence, and mass exodus that have reduced its numbers by half.

For this occasion, hundreds of worshippers packed the cathedral.  His Beatitude Mar Sako led the Divine Liturgy accompanied by auxiliary bishops Mgr Shlemon Warduni and Mgr Basil Yaldo as well as scores of the diocese’s priests. 

The lectorate, said the concelebrants, is rooted in the New Testament and in the tradition of the early Church. It is a "front line" service to enliven the life of parish communities and strengthen the unity between Church and its members.

During the service, the Chaldean Patriarch urged politically active Christians to form a single list that can be a reference point and source of strength in the forthcoming elections.

He asked everyone to provide practical support for the Chaldean League as an (non-party) instrument of political and social action by and for Christians in their native land.

After the Mass, AsiaNews spoke with the patriarch’s right hand man, Auxiliary Bishop Basil Yaldo, who described the event as “one big celebration with a packed church, and worshippers standing outside" in the square, eager nevertheless "to bear witness by their presence."

In addition to the new deacons’ families and relatives, "more than 600 people representing the entire Christian community" in the capital joined the service "in an atmosphere of serenity and sharing," in defiance of risks and the lack of security.

"Granting these ministries gives us hope,” the bishop added, “because it is a sign of a Church that is alive, full of faithful. In Baghdad, many things go against Christians, but this celebration gives us hope."

Finally yet importantly, “This is an event that we planned for the Jubilee Year,” he said, “because it stands as a sign of mercy. Before that, the Holy Door was opened in a tent, here in the capital. In the coming weeks, pilgrimages will take place in various locations. We are a living Church."

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