Kirkuk (AsiaNews) – For three years they studied theology while kamikazes killed civilians in the city centre, while many of their compatriots chose to leave the country in their hundreds, shaken by daily acts of violence and grinding persecution. On March 8th a handful of Christians, twenty in all, from various Churches received their licence in theology in the grand hall adjacent to Kirkuk’s Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, in Northern Iraq. The city’s Chaldean Archbishop Msgr. Louis Sako presided over the ceremony; together with him members from Kirkuk’s other Christian Churches.
These students are the first to complete the three year course in theology offered by the archdiocese and open to all Christians in a true spirit of ecumenism. This year the first year of the course already numbers 28 students. The theology lessons are held each Friday on various themes: Scared Scriptures, dogmatic, moral theology, spirituality and philosophy. An initiative which will benefit the local Church and all of Iraq.
During the ceremony brought the logo and title of the “Red Church” – a dear place of worship for Kirkuk’s Chaldean Christians, to the city cemetery – passing it on to the next generation of students. Fr. Janan Shamil, of the archdiocese explains that this gesture “symbolizes the loyalty and continuity of these Christians with the first fathers of the Church”. He adds: “This day shows us that despite the total lack of security and the plague of immigration gripping the country, there still is hope because the faith is deeply rooted”. “With the same faith - continues the priest – students from the faculty of theology seek to transmit the inheritance they have received from the Fathers of the Church to new pupils”. The presentation of the catechesis and the Vatican flag to new classes is instead “a sign of the local Church’s faith in and union with the Universal Church”.
The spirit and ecumenical mission which animate this initiative are even more important if one considers the “worrying phenomenon – as Msgr. Sako defined it – of the aggressive proselytising being carried out by some evangelical communities in Iraq”.