Chaldean Patriarch: Pope Francis in Iraq 'comfort in a time of uncertainty'
In a letter to the faithful, Card Sako underlines the value of the pontiff's presence "for peace, reconciliation, stability and coexistence". For Christians it is also "an opportunity to pilgrim towards our original roots to make a conversion and hold onto our Iraqi Christian identity." It is a further stage on the path of dialogue "with religions, especially Islam".
Baghdad (AsiaNews) – When he comes to Iraq Pope Francis will bring with him "a message of comfort for all, in a time of uncertainty," says the Chaldean patriarch, Card Louis Raphael Sako. The church leader has written message to the faithful following the announcement of the apostolic journey of the Argentine pontiff to the Arab country in early March, a source of joy for Christians and Muslims.
The presence of the pope, the cardinal emphasizes, " overcome the painful past in order to reconcile and sooth their wounds; unite and cooperate to achieve peace, stability, consolidation of coexistence and development; to respect and appreciate diversity and pluralism, simply because they are “different” brothers of one family and citizens of a shared home named as Iraq.”
"We should be up to the event and not let this visit go unnoticed - writes the Chaldean primate - without leaving a “positive” impact on our Churches and our country, since it invites us, Christians to pilgrim towards our original roots to make a conversion and hold onto our Iraqi Christian identity. Moreover, this visit is an opportunity for us to think, review, analyze, and launch a new vision for the Church in Iraq and the region; to set up a working plan for it; to become more enthusiastic in returning to the “radical” evangelical spirituality and be closer to people, serving them generously and joyfully by all means, similar to what our Church Fathers, Saints and Martyrs did."
A journey of dialogue, encounter, coexistence between Christians and Muslims (and Jews) in the name of the common bond with Abraham, the father of believers, and with his land, Ur of the Chaldeans from which the patriarch left welcoming the call of God. Between 5 and 8 March 2021 the pontiff will visit Baghdad, Ur of the Chaldeans, Erbil (Iraqi Kurdistan), Mosul and Qaraqosh in the Nineveh plain, although the details are still to be defined considering the evolution of the pandemic. of Covid-19.
"As you all know, Chaldean as well as other Iraqi Churches and those throughout the Middle East are experiencing the pressure of various political, economic and social challenges due to conflicts, extremism, immigration and the consequences of corona pandemic that have confused the vision and complicated relations and work. This visit must be invested to be a major turning point, so that the faith and hope inside us become a commitment."
The cardinal then returns to a theme dear to him, that of the Christian presence in Iraq and in the Middle East which "is not by chance or in view of an emigration", but is part of a "divine plan" because "we have a vocation and a mission ". "Pope Francis - he warns - insists on a Church to be in the heart of the world by going out to the people, speaks to them in their language, and of perennial incarnation and resurrection.".
A reality that becomes the architect and protagonist of "ecumenical dialogue with sister Churches" and a "Church of coexistence and dialogue with religions, especially with Islam". "From this starting point, I invite you to profit from the Pope's visit - concludes the cardinal - to mobilize public opinion and support Eastern Christians, so that they remain there as a sign of the presence of Christ's love, of universal brotherhood and coexistence ".