Iraqi Christians denied visas, excluded from World Meeting of Families. Msgr. Warduni: 'Terrible'
No delegation from Iraq will be present at the global event being held in Ireland. About 20 families were ready to leave from Erbil, Baghdad and Basra. But the embassies rejected their visa applications. Auxiliary of Baghdad: "We are not fanatics or terrorists". Even today in Iraq the family plays a central role, but government and political aid is lacking.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) - The Iraqi delegation's exclusion from attending the 2018 World Meeting of Families, scheduled from August 21 to 26 in Dublin (Ireland), which will also sees the participation of Pope Francis is "a terrible event", says Msgr. Shlemon Audish Warduni, auxiliary bishop of Baghdad.
The number two to the Chaldean patriarch, confirms that there will be no faithful present at the Irish meeting due to a problem linked to the issue of entry permits. "They told us that it took months to process them - explains the prelate – and our online applications were not even granted".
"We appealed to the Irish embassy - continues Msgr. Warduni - but we did not get positive answers. It is terrible that even Christians [Ireland is a nation with a Catholic majority, ed] do not grant the visas to other Christians. We are not fanatics or terrorists ... a simple phone call to the embassies and ministries would have been enough to verify it".
The problem of getting visas to take part in the World Meeting of Families has already been the subject of controversy in recent weeks. Pakistani Christians were also denied entry by the consulates in Karachi and Islamabad by Dublin’s bureaucrats.
The question of security confirms once again the difficulties encountered by the citizens of some countries: as emerges from the Henley Passport Index 2018, the Iraqi passport is the second worst in the world, second only to Afghanistan and in front of Pakistan.
"At least 50 people were ready to represent Iraq, 20 families in all coming from Ankawa (Christian district of Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan), Baghdad and Basra" says Msgr. Warduni. "A delegation - he adds - that ideally united the whole country and it would be important to talk about the family, to deal with other realities. The family is the fundamental nucleus for the Church and society, not being present is ugly, terrible. Unfortunately, it happened in the past, in Philadelphia (2015), while I remember with pleasure our participation at the Milan event (2012) ".
Speaking of the role of the family today in Iraq, the auxiliary to Patriarch Sako confirms that it plays a central one in the life of the country. "It is still a compact reality, which rests on love between spouses. However, the new challenges posed by emigration, unemployment, and illiteracy represent a risk for the founding nucleus of society ". Moreover, for too long, "the government and the Parliament have not given it due attention" and there is a lack of legislation aimed at favoring the development of the family, starting precisely "from the right to a quality education from an early age".
Although far from the Dublin meeting, concludes Msgr. Warduni, "Iraqi Christians will unite in prayer with the faithful of the whole world, so that we can always count on a healthy and holy family that knows how to accomplish God's will".