08/02/2004, 00.00
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Chaldean Patriarch: "Debris and destruction everywhere, but we will not give in to discouragement"

Islamic figures will call on the Patriarch this evening to express solidarity and condolences.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) -- The attacks on 5 Christian churches in Baghdad and Mossul have left Christians and Muslims in shock.  Speaking to AsiaNews, the Catholic Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel Delly said that Muslim groups will call on him this evening to express their solidarity and to offer their condolences.  Monsignor Delly is adamant in affirming that Iraq consists of "a single Iraqi family, made up of Christians and Muslims".

 The Patriarch's first words are for the terrorists: "May God illuminate their minds and make them understand the enormity of what they have committed".  He then speaks of the Christian faithful:  "What has happened leaves us stricken: the dead, the many wounded.  Debris and destruction are everywhere, especially in the seminary and the college where power generators were completed destroyed.  The civilian population is extremely disheartened, but we must not give in to discouragement.  We Christians must constantly pray for peace together with our Muslim brothers and sisters, because we are sons and daughters of a single Iraqi family."

 As proof of the unity between Christian and Muslim Iraqis, Msgr Delly affirms: "Muslims themselves are clearly sorry and stricken and in the past hours have repeatedly expressed their solidarity.  Attacks like these hit everyone, in particular the civilian population which is the first victim of such attacks.  I have received many telephone calls from figures of the Islamic world and each one has expressed solidarity and shares in our grief; furthermore, a group of Muslims will call on me this evening to pray together and to express their sincere condolences."

 When asked if it is still possible for Christians and Muslims to live together in Iraq, the Patriarch's response is unequivocal: " We are a single Iraqi family, made up of Christians and Muslims; we are brothers and sisters and must respect each other and live peacefully side by side in a free and safe Iraq".  (DS)

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