04/05/2018, 18.09
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Patriarch of Baghdad sees Chaldean martyrs as a source of peace and unity

by Louis Raphael Sako*

To mark tomorrow’s commemoration, Mar Sako says that the bloodshed is "a source of inspiration" that can give hope. Overcoming all forms of terrorism can lead to stability. The goal is to preserve the Christian presence in the country and the Middle East and "disperse darkness from this land".

Baghdad (AsiaNews) –  The blood of Iraqi martyrs is a "source of inspiration" that can provide “spiritual values​​" to fill “our life with hope, human dignity, tolerance and peace,” writes Chaldean primate Mar Louis Raphael Sako in a message to the Chaldean community and sent to AsiaNews for wider circulation. The occasion is the Day of the Chaldean Martyrs, which will be celebrated tomorrow, 6 April.

In his letter, the prelate looks at the violence the Chaldean Church endured in the recent years of darkness, hoping that the nation can rid itself of "all forms of terrorism" and find “stability". Noting the Church’s long trail of blood – from the first martyrs and the genocide of 1915 to the death of Mgr Rahho –, Mar Sako calls for faster reconstruction of the villages and cities destroyed in the conflict.

At this historical juncture, the aim of this is to help displaced people return and “preserve the remaining number of Christians in Iraq” as well as “disperse darkness from this land". The patriarch’s message follows.

The commemoration of the martyrs of our Church takes place on the Friday following Easter, which means it comes within the celebration of the Easter-Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Historically, our Church has been generous in shedding blood for the sake of faith, such as Mar Shimon Barssaba’i and his companions in early centuries, followed by Bishops: Adday Sher, Jacob Abraham, Thomas Audo and hundreds of others. As well as the unforgettable genocide in 1915 and recently in 2008 Archbishop Faraj Rahho, Father Ragheed Kenny, their comrades by the extremists of al-Qaeda.

The resurrection and the blood of the martyrs are a source of inspiration and have a spiritual value that fills our life with hope, human dignity, tolerance and peace. Our nation will rise up and get rid of all forms of terrorism, killing, destruction and displacement, and will enjoy security, stability, economic and social prosperity.

Remembering Martyrs at Easter time provides us with hope, renew our trust in life, and fulfil our wishes.

Currently, there is more awareness among the church leadership in the Middle East, that strength comes from our unity, the same thing applies to Christians at-large at this region. Therefore, they are looking forward for more interaction between the church leadership at this critical time.

As, we hope that the clergy and the faithful will be aware of the challenges and threats, we encourage them to realize their responsibilities in working as one team, because their existence and strength relies on unity, which is the only way to make changes. Christians are also called to be committed to their “sacred” homeland, believing deeply that good deeds, love and peace will ultimately overcome injustice.

Joining Pope Francis, I would like to stress, that the spiritual, human and social message of the Church is universal: stating that our mission is to serve and love by following Christ. We must find ways to provide more comfort, stability and well-being to people after all the anguish they have suffered from terrorism and destruction. One of these ways, is to build the villages and cities that were destroyed by conflict in order to allow the internally displaced people returning to their homes.

We hope that this special occasion will provide a new vision for the mission of the Church, especially that we need in such circumstances to preserve the remaining number of Christians in Iraq and create more interaction between clergy and their faithful on one hand and between them and their fellows of other religions on the other hand to disperse darkness from this land of civilizations.

Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Iraq

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