02/18/2015, 00.00
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Baghdad patriarch: Lent prayers for peace in Iraq and Chaldean unity

by Louis Raphael I Sako*
Mar Raphael I Louis Sako issued a message for the start of the period of fasting and prayer that leads to Easter. In it, he calls on his "Muslim brothers and sisters" to share the fast and urges the faithful to repent and convert. Finally, he calls on his compatriots to "To love our country as we love our mother and father".

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - In a message sent to AsiaNews for the start of Lent, His Beatitude Mar Raphael I Louis Sako calls on fellow Chaldeans to work for the unity of the Church, and for peace in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. In it, he also urges his "Muslim brothers and sisters" to take part in the fast for "a few days" during this privileged period of reflection and prayer. 

For the Chaldean Patriarch, the time before Easter is a "suitable time for repentance, conversion and reconciliation" with God and others. In view of the difficult conditions affecting people displaced from Mosul and villages in the Nineveh Plain as a result of the violence perpetrated by the Islamic State group, His Beatitude calls for the "Promotion of brotherhood," [. . .] giving priority to forgiveness [. . .] while refraining from fanaticism".

Finally, he urges his fellow Iraqis to "love our country as we love our mother and father" and "love our Church" in this period of great renewal.

The Chaldean patriarch's message to AsiaNews follows:

This Monday we will begin Lent, which is the suitable time for repentance, conversion and reconciliation with oneself, with the Lord, and with others. Let us profit from this time for prayer, reflection, self-appraisal, evaluation, and also to restore harmony, as division is a sin. As responsible persons we are accountable to all what we say and all what we do.

I solicit you to fast as much as you can, for example, the first week, in the middle and in the last week, as I invite also our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters to fast with us for a few days:

  • To achieve peace stability and decent life as soon as possible in our country and in the Middle East. The life conditions are very difficult in our country, especially for the displaced families.
  • Promotion of brotherhood, cooperation and coexistence by building a good relationship with everyone, and giving priority to forgiveness, reconciliation and the common good while refraining from fanaticism and conflicts that create discomforts.
  • To uphold moral values and ideals such as honesty, sacrifice, and helping those in need, "the brother who helps his brother is a fortified city" (Proverbs 18:19).
  • To love our country as we love our mother and father. Belonging to our land is very important because our identity depends on it. We should renew our commitment, and strengthen our unity in diversity rather than sectarianism. Diversity is God's design. Many common things unite us.
  • To love our Church and to participate intensely in her renewal. To go back to her pure sources and to recover her unity that she can be a spiritual, cultural and moral authority in order to realize her vocation and mission in the society. Therefore, we should consolidate the Christian presence in Iraq and in the Middle East. We, Christians are testimonies of hope, carrying a history, a civilization and a message.

We went through tougher situations than now, to remember, the massacres of Safarberlik a century ago, so we have to hold on and not to give up, and to renew our trust in the future.

* Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans and president of the Bishops' Conference of Iraq.

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