04/13/2015, 00.00
IRAQ
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Chaldean Patriarch meets Prime Minister: We must work for reconciliation

by Joseph Mahmoud
Prime Minister al-Abadi received Mar Sako in government buildings, expressing "appreciation" for the role of Christians and calling on the minority to remain despite "difficulties". The Patriarch urges the government to work to rebuild trust. He adds: "The Pope in Iraq, a source of renewed hope." A video of the destruction Nimrud by the Islamic State.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - Working for a "true reconciliation" and to "rebuild trust" among the various political forces, the ethnic and religious groups with the goal of "achieving security and stability" in the country. This is the invitation launched by the Chaldean Patriarch Mar Louis Raphael I Sako, during his meeting with the Prime Minister of Iraq Haider Al-Abadi.

Accompanied by auxiliary bishops Msgr. Shlemon Warduni and Msgr. Basil Yaldo, on April 11, His Beatitude visited the offices of the prime minister in the Green Zone in Baghdad; the two leaders (pictured) discussed the situation in Iraq and the steps needed to counter the terrorist threat and to ensure national unity.

Welcoming the Chaldean delegation, the Shiite Prime Minister al-Abadi wanted to inquire about the situation of Christians in the capital and the displaced families of Mosul and the plain of Nineveh, who have been welcomed in Iraqi Kurdistan. The head of government expressed full "appreciation" for the role of Christians "in the Iraqi " and in the "regional" culture. Finally, he encouraged the minority "to remain" despite "difficulties", stressing that "there is no Iraq without Christians."

The Patriarch Sako in turn, thanked the Prime Minister for his Easter greetings, stressing the importance of a "culture of openness" and committed to the promotion of a "peaceful coexistence". He also appealled to government authorities, to work for a genuine reconciliation and to rebuild trust between the different political forces, pursuing the objectives of "security and stability".

The Chaldean Patriarch also reflected on the media, whose "critical attitude negatively reflects" on society; he therefore urged the government to release those who are in prison in poor health and those who are in jail without being criminals. Such steps, noted Mar Sako, can "strengthen reconciliation".

Finally, the prelate spoke about "the importance of Pope Francis’ visit to Iraq", a source of "new hope" and asked for help "for displaced families" whose situation "remains tragic." An appeal raised by the Prime Minister, who expressed "full understanding" and sympathy for the sufferings of these Christian families.

But while the  Baghdad summit between religious leaders and politicians focused on peace and reconciliation, the violence and barbarism committed by the militias of the Islamic State continued elsewhere. Among the latest objectives of the jihadists the ancient city of Nimrud, in the north of the country, home to one of the most important archaeological sites. The fundamentalists have released a video (click here to view) where you see militiamen taking a hammer to the Assyrian statues and other artifacts of incalculable historical and cultural value.

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