04/11/2016, 15.01
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Patriarch Sako: Iraqi Church needs youth, courageous witnesses of faith

by Joseph Mahmoud

At least 350 young people take part in a meeting with the leader of the Chaldean Church. His Beatitude mentioned the consecrated life as a choice, urging young people to respond to the need of those who suffer. The Patriarchate slammed trafficking in Christian refugees, called for the liberation of jihadi-controlled areas to allow the return of displaced people.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – Chaldean Patriarch Mar Raphael Louis Sako I met a group of young people in Baghdad over the weekend at the Hindyia Club as part of Easter activities.

In his address, the prelate told his audience that they are called to be "courageous witnesses" of their faith, because this is "your vocation and mission”.

In his message to young Christians in the capital and the country, but also sent to AsiaNews for a wider audience, His Beatitude called on them to “think seriously about consecrating your life to God through the priesthood and religious orders, or in consecrated life”, adding, “Your Church in Iraq is suffering and needs you.”

The gathering took place last Friday (8 April), and saw the participation of the Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad, Mgr Basilios Yaldo, Fr Amer Gammo, Fr Meyassar Behnam, Fr Majid Maqdassi and Sister Ghufran, who worked hard to organise the meeting focused on spiritual and cultural education.

The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Alberto Ortega Martin, and his secretary Mgr George were among the guests in addition to the Auxiliary Bishop Shleimon Warduni, as well as many of Iraqi priests, nuns and around 350 young people from different Baghdad parishes.

Addressing the youth, His Beatitude said that they represent “the future of the Church and society”: for this reason, it is important that they grow up “the right way”.

At the same time, they must maintain the “faith, hope, determination, persistence and ability to cooperate." They must also prepare themselves for “the environment where” they work, “building a mindful and strong personality grounded on truth and love” to reach maturity “through full understanding, analysing and consulting”. 

Stressing the need for full "harmony and healthy integration" between what they have inside and the outside, Patriarch Sako urged the young men and women to "educate yourselves with an open-minded general education,” and “not be trapped in a culture of gossip, suspicion, and rumours.”

“Set yourself a major goal, and work hard to achieve it,” the head of the Chaldean Church explained,” with a clear vision, confidence, and wisdom”.

Finally, His Beatitude mentioned the importance of daily participation in the life of the Church and the constant bearing witness to the faith through listening to the word of God, prayer and participation in Church activities.

Meanwhile, the Chaldean Patriarchate released a statement to clarify the Church's position on the "deportation" of Christian refugees and the exodus taking place in the community.

Stressing the great work accomplished for the displaced from Mosul and the Nineveh plain, Mar Sako and the bishops called for “international, regional and Iraqi cooperation" to free Iraqi territory held by the Islamic State group in order to “allow families to return to their homes”.

At a recent meeting of the Chaldean Church in Ankawa (Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan) on 5 April, the patriarch and bishops examined the refugee situation, calling on priests and clergymen not to get involved in plans that promote the flight of Christians.

Whilst respecting the “responsible decisions of the people and their choices to emigrate following the civil and legal ways that protect their lives,” the prelates slammed all those “individuals and non-clerical groups who are misusing this tragic situation for economic, political, and media interests.”

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