Card Sako says the encyclical is a light at a time of wars, sectarianism and persecution
For the cardinal, ‘Fratelli Tutti’ is a call "to live in peace” and put “aside enmities" and for “charity and brotherhood”. Christians can pass on brotherhood and mercy to Muslims "for a radical change". Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus have been affected by secularisation. The encyclical must be presented in a more user-friendly way to facilitate its dissemination.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) – Card Louis Raphael Sako spoke to AsiaNews about Pope Francis’s encyclical Fratelli Tutti and its close link to the document on fraternity the pontiff signed in Abu Dhabi in February 2019 along with the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Ahmad al-Tayyeb.
For the Chaldean patriarch, the encyclical comes "at a time of total confusion, wars and tensions, sectarianism and persecution" to bring light, adding that the Gospel says that "we are all brothers and we must work together on a plan of solidarity. This text urges us to live in peace, joy, and dignity, putting aside enmities and private interests.”
For the Chaldean primate, the reference "to charity, brotherhood, justice and forgiveness, love for the poor" is essential. This is "a basic text for countries with wars and devastation like Iraq itself, Syria, Lebanon, Libya and Yemen”. It makes “clear that the solution is never military, but diplomatic to put an end to the deaths of so many people.”
The call for mercy, the parable of the Good Samaritan whose figure is also appreciated by the believers of other religions, is a call “to redistribute wealth according to a standard of justice", so that "it is not only for me, but also for the benefit of others.”
“This reference comes from the Bible. The pope speaks in a prophetic voice in a dark world. The Grand Imam of al-Azhar said as much, noting that this encyclical has come because today the world is going through a dark phase.”
Brotherhood is one of Christianity’s highest traits. “Muslims speak of brotherhood among themselves, a human brotherhood. The pontiff's reference is broader, as in the Gospel when it calls to love one's enemies.
“This is a peculiar aspect of Christianity and, starting from this element, we must help others to learn to forgive, to be reconciled, to understand that revenge is bad. This would be a radical change for Muslims as well.”
According to the cardinal, "Today there is an urgent need for a spiritual awakening, not only for Christians but also for Jews, Muslims, and Hindus”. Because “of globalisation and growing secularisation, accentuated by social media, we have neglected these values.”
“We must contribute to a spiritual awakening, which is a duty for us Christians. The Pope asks us to do all this, urging us to think of different policies, different strategies” because the current ones have been wiped out “by wars, violence and, ultimately, the new coronavirus pandemic.”
The encyclical has a major section dedicated to migrants. Iraqi Christians know very well what migration means since their ranks were more than halved due to a massive exodus in the last 20 years.
"If, on the one hand, it is a duty to provide hospitality; on the other, it is important to eliminate the causes that drive people away,” said the cardinal. “Today there are economic and political problems and the international community must create the conditions for decent living conditions at home, and not force people to leave. Everyone must contribute to the development of the country.”
Finally, Card Sako underlines the need to make it easier to read the encyclical, “and not end up on library shelves". It should become "a living thing, part of everyday life, helping people to understand it by giving them the necessary tools.”
To this end, the Chaldean patriarchate "has published excerpts in Arabic" but, the cardinal wants the Roman Curia to "develop synopses and explanatory videos so that it can also be understood and read by Muslim authorities and government leaders here in Iraq as well.
“At a time in history when people are struggling to read, it is important to provide new ways for it [the encyclical] to circulate.
“Justice, migration, redistribution of assets and wealth are current issues for everyone. We must spread the word like the Church Fathers did because the Pope speaks to everyone, not only Christians.”