Dear Bishops, priests, Religious and Sisters and Brothers
"Grace and peace from God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ be with you" (Rm. 1,7
We were very pleased with our visit to you from 12th -24th May. It has taught us a lot. You are always in our prayers. We thank God. Meeting you in Teheran and in Urmia filled our hearts with joy and gratitude for your faith, steadfastness, hope, love and for keeping your Christian values and traditions including our Chaldean language. Thank you.
We thank God for the peace and stability that your are enjoying in your beloved country Iran, and we thank the government and religious authority whom we met, we thank them for their kind reception and positive dialogue.
Beloved sisters and brothers,
Remember that you are descendants of martyrs and saints. In the cathedral of Urmia there are the remains of 4000 martyrs killed in 1918. They are a blessing and a force for you. St. Paul says in his Epistle to Romans, and to you today: "If the first fruits are holy, so is the whole batch of dough; and if the root is holy, so are the branches" (Romans11, 16). Blessed are you!
We invite you also to be attached to your country; you are Iranians and not a foreign community descended from another planet. You were there before the arrival of Islam, Christians were the majority, and your church was called the Church of Persia, and today you are a minority, but we felt that everyone is respecting you. Though you are a small community in number, you are as strong as the early church. We are confident that you will grow. Strength is in quality and not in number. You are the light, the salt and the yeast. Your future is a daily act of faith. Do not be afraid as Jesus repeats in the Gospel.
Dear ones, Let the grace and peace fill your hearts along with the blessings of the Lord.
* Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans and president of the Iraqi Bishops’ Conference