12/22/2022, 11.08
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Chaldean Patriarch: Christmas cares for the 'suffering' of the world, from Iraq to Ukraine

by Louis Raphael Sako *

In his homily at midnight Mass, the Chaldean Patriarch recalls the "increasingly serious" crises afflicting the planet: divisions, conflicts and injustice. The theme of "minorities" who are "increasingly oppressed" along with "displaced persons" because of war. The reconstruction of Iraq starting from its origins and values, to rebuild trust in the "social fabric". 

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - Christmas comes "at a time when the world is suffering" from "increasingly serious" crises such as the "deadly war" between Ukraine and Russia, as well as "divisions, conflicts and injustices" in many parts of the world, including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Yemen. These are the words of the Chaldean Primate, Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, in his homily at midnight Mass to priests and faithful in the Arab country and in the diaspora around the world, sent as a preview to AsiaNews. In his text, the cardinal recalls "in particular the minorities" who are increasingly oppressed, the object of violence and robbery, along with those "displaced" by conflicts fuelled by "different positions and interests". Nevertheless, the birth of Christ "teaches faith" through the "continuous presence of God in our midst", a presence that is "eternal" in love and mercy.

The midnight Mass, patriarchate sources anticipate, will be attended by the President of the Republic Abdul Latif Rashid, Prime Minister Muhammad Shia'a al Sudani, and Christian and Muslim institutional and religious figures. A moment of recollection and unity, in the face of the risk of a new extremist drift as witnessed by the attacks of recent days. "Iraq," observes the Chaldean Primate, "is a country of civilisations, cultures and glories, with great personalities of all religions. It is time to return to our origins and values, build trust in the social fabric and educate ourselves to accept diversity'. Below is the full text of Card. Sako's homily:

Christmas is a theological project on the level of faith, human being and life, which helps a person recover spiritual and moral values to live in love and peace with others.

Christmas is not just a celebration of a two-thousand-year-old anniversary or a folkloric event with an outward appeal, such as decorations, presents, visits. Christmas teaches us - through reason and faith - about the continuing presence of God among us, an eternal presence with his love and mercy. A Christmas hymn says: 'When my soul dissolves into God's being, I am in Christmas'. Christ came to bring us together and to bring us closer, to develop our relationships in a spirit of brotherhood and tranquillity, so let us welcome him with a new spirit to achieve the fullness of the human and spiritual values he taught us. Let us not let the feast pass like the days of the calendar, as Pope Francis said three weeks ago in the Angelus. 

Christmas will not end, and the hope of a new humanity capable of living in peace, love and forgiveness remains a living desire in the heart of every human being: "On Christmas night hatred is wiped out, the earth flourishes, war is abolished, love germinates". This hope must continue. It is unfortunate that this Christmas comes at a time when the world is suffering from increasingly serious crises such as the deadly war between Ukraine and Russia, and divisions, conflicts and injustices in Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen where citizens, and especially minorities, have become oppressed, the object of violence and robbery, the poor and displaced, because of conflict and different positions and interests.

The whole world must realise that wars are failures and conflicts defeats; this method should end and dialogue through diplomacy must be undertaken to solve problems. Moreover, perverse people must realise that evil will not last, and God will hold them accountable. Only good remains, and even if it is small, it is a blessing.

Jesus experienced what we experience today: Jewish religious figures such as Annas and Caiaphas attacked him; politicians, such as King Herod and the Roman governor Pilate, feared him and acted to liquidate and crucify him. Yet God raised him from the dead, which is why our Muslim brothers and sisters call him "Jesus the living."

Our fears and desires find in the birth and resurrection of Christ the hope of a happy ending: "When we fill our hearts with hope, we are in Christmas." This hope should energise the hearts of the good and unite their efforts to end people's suffering by building a better environment, in which every citizen, regardless of colour, gender or religion, lives with dignity, freedom and pride.

Christmas teaches us to be agents of peace, charity, defence of the oppressed, relief for orphans, widows and the poor, and we cannot grow and develop without a spiritual life, moral values and cooperation to restore harmony in this world. Created by God who entrusted it to us to organise, preserve and prosper.

Iraq is a country of civilisations, cultures and glories, with great personalities of all religions. It is time to return to our origins and values, build trust in the social fabric and educate ourselves to accept diversity, consolidate coexistence and loyalty to the homeland that embraces all under the rule of equal citizenship. This project is not the job of the prime minister alone; citizens have a great responsibility with their support, cooperation and care to protect the unity and sovereignty of the nation and its progress so that all may live in peace and happiness. In all honesty, there is no other way. Let us pray and say: O Lord of peace, grant peace and stability to our country and the world.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. Long live Iraq!

* Cardinal, Patriarch of Baghdad of the Chaldeans

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