Chaldean Patriarch: on Christmas, Christian refugees should not feel "abandoned" or "forgotten"
Erbil (AsiaNews) - Chaldean Patriarch Raphael I Mar Louis Sako issued a Christmas statement addressed to Iraq's Christian, especially its refugees who abandoned their homes following the advance of Islamic State fighters.
In it, the prelate tried to reassure his co-religionists that despite their "still critical and tragic" situation and the lack of prospect for a "rapid solution" to their plight, they should "not feel alone and abandoned" and that they will not be forgotten.
In the statement sent to AsiaNews, His Beatitude issued an appeal to the faithful of Mosul and the plain of Nineveh, which saw the flight of about 500,000 people following the advance of Islamist fighters who founded a caliphate and imposed sharia.
Living in a small room or inside vans provided by the Church, Mar Sako explained, is not easy task from a psychological point of view. People are understandably "concerned" about their homes and cities, about the lost jobs and their children's dark future.
However, "You are not alone and abandoned," the Chaldean Patriarch said, "nor are your suffering forgotten". Instead, His Beatitude called on "all our brothers and sisters" to pray and keep alive "courage, hope and trust in God the Father".
He reiterated his intention to celebrate Christmas Mass among refugees, to express in a concrete way the Church's closeness to them and show its willingness to continue helping them.
In the same message, Mar Sako also thanked all those who, in Iraq and abroad, continue to help and show solidarity to Iraq's Christian community, like AsiaNews through its campaign.
Christianity must remain in this blessed land, he added, because it is a "message of love and tolerance, as Christ taught."
"We want to live in peace and security," the Chaldean Patriarch said, insisting that "our land, our history, our identity" are "our promised land."
Lastly, he addressed an appeal to political leaders that may protect "the rights of all Iraqis" and ensure "dignity and justice", which are "the foundation of peace."
This goal should be achieved "through proper education" and the training of open minds that can work for "coexistence and respect for the values of diversity and human rights."
Like the Lord when he spoke to Mary, Mar Sako addressed the faithful urging them not to be afraid. This Christmas, let us renew our their faith in God and trust in men of good will, the patriarch said, so that in a heart full of pain "a new dawn of hope" may be born.