Iraqi bishop: The diaconate "essential to keeping the Church in the Middle East alive "
Msgr. Habib Jajou, Archbishop of Basra, speaks of "noble and dynamic mission" which focuses on "human dignity" and "unites Christians" in need. A figure that has "respect" and "witnesses to the faith" in society. The future of the mission was discussed at a conference in Beirut involving theologians and religious leaders.
Beirut (AsiaNews) - The diaconate in Iraq is a "noble and dynamic mission" because it focuses on "human dignity" and, at the same time, is an effective means to "unite Christians, especially those in need", says Msgr. Alnaufali Habib Jajou Archbishop of Basra, in southern Iraq.
He was one of the participants at a conference focusing on the diaconate and its importance for the Church in the Middle East recently held in Beirut, Lebanon. The prelate, along with other Iraqi delegate, Ekhlas Almaqdacy took part in the July 7 to 9 meeting, together with 16 other experts, theologians and religious leaders from across the region.
In a period of crisis and violence, emigration and decline in vocations, the diaconate has proved an essential resource to keeping alive the work of the Church in the Middle East. Hence the idea to investigate the role, its mission and development in the context of a meeting organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC).
In his speech, the bishop stressed that the Iraqi diakonia teaches "humility" and to share "life with joy"; it goes beyond the satisfaction of "material needs" and helps to "improve" the Christian personality.
The role of deacons becomes essential in a situation like that of Iraq today and, more generally, in the Middle East where Christians are often subject to persecution, fighting "for their dignity and their rights" in the face of abuse and violence in many areas of daily life. The figure of the deacon, adds Msgr. Habib Jajou, enjoys "respect" and "witnesses to the faith" in every day life.
The Church has the duty to keep "the door of hope" open and in doing this the diaconate "is an essential element" and part "of this program." In the face of the violence that fuels migration, says the Archbishop of Basra, "we have the duty to remain and serve not only ours, but the entire community" of Iraq, including other ethnic and religious groups. "The priority - he adds - is to serve the displaced and those who have had to flee their homes [at least 120 thousand people from June 2014] when Daesh [Arabic acronym for the Islamic State] attacked Mosul and Nineveh Plain".
However, the commitment of the deacons and the importance of the diaconate is not limited to the last two years, with the advance of the jihadist group, but had already emerged during the war with Iran in the 1980s. In fact, even at the time many have contributed "working hard to provide a response to humanitarian needs."
Along with the celebration of the liturgy "in churches, monasteries, homes, camps and prisons", the deacons are "sign of the times" in their strenuous defense of life, justice, peace, and in their duty to respond "to the needs of the faithful "in situations of" crisis ". "The Iraqi Church - concludes the prelate - works to support any initiative of a creative nature that it is capable of improving the work of the diaconate. It is an increasingly important element in this century, in which we live and deal with more and more challenges".