02/25/2014, 00.00
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For Chaldean Patriarch, Lent is a time of "prayer and fasting" for peace and the future of Christians in Iraq

by Mar Louis Raphael I Sako
In his message to the faithful for Ash Wednesday, his Beatitude Mar Raphael I Louis Sako calls for genuine political and social "reconciliation". Addressing government leaders, he calls on them to establish "sound rules" for interaction and exchange. He finally calls for a renewed commitment to "building bridges" with "our Muslim brothers."

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - Lent is "a period of intense prayer and fasting" to promote a better future for our country, and the Middle Eastern region, and to put an end to the exodus of Christians from Iraq.

In his message to the faithful for Ash Wednesday, His Beatitude Mar Raphael I Louis Sako calls for a renewed commitment to peace, dialogue and integration between the nation's various communities.

The Chaldean Patriarch hopes that, against a backdrop of "bloody conflicts and violence," fasting and prayer may achieve "true reconciliation" to "get out of this distressing situation."

His Beatitude also calls on government leaders to "establish sound rules" for interaction and exchange and "turn a new page," starting" with the upcoming elections," so that the country may find "peace and security".

Finally, he calls for a renewed commitment to "building bridges" with his Muslim brothers.

Here is Mar Sako's message:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Let us fast and pray for the future of our country and region. Let us fast and pray so that Christians do not emigrate from Iraq.

I take the opportunity of Lent to wish you a period of intense prayer, and true conversion, to experience charity in a concrete way.

Lent is a privileged time to participate in the Paschal Mystery and unite with Christ.

Against a backdrop of bloody conflicts and violence in many cities of our country and region, of the uprooting of many families from their cities and their homes, I would like you dedicate this period of intense fasting and prayer to a better future for our country and region (Syria and Lebanon), and to true reconciliation among all political leaders, of renewed trust among them, so that we may get out of this distressing situation.

Leaders must establish sound rules for interaction and exchange. They must turn a new page, starting with the next election, so that the country may find peace and security, for the good of all its citizens, so that Iraq may take its place at the level regional and international levels.

I ask you at the same time to fast and pray, so that Christians do not emigrate from Iraq.

Our Christian identity is deeply rooted in Iraq's history and geography, and it has been so for two thousand years.

Our roots and limpid sources are in our country; if we leave, we shall be deprived of our origins.

To persevere and hope is an expression of complete faithfulness to our faith and our homeland. You must not listen to those who would bewitch you, nor those who would scare you. They do not want what is good for you.

We are here, by the will of God, and, by His grace, we shall remain to build bridges and work with our Muslim brothers for the development of our country, so that it may become once again a land of riches and glory.

Thus, take advantage of Lent this year to spread a culture of love, forgiveness and peace, so that everyone may live in freedom and dignity.

Happy Lent to everyone!

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