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Chaldean Synod Issues Statement on Iraq

Rome -- In a "critical and difficult" time for Iraq, the Chaldean Church expresses "appreciation" for the role played by the armed forces in the fight against the "terrorists" of the Islamic State (IS, formerly Isis) and renews its call to "dialogue" to overcome the "crisis" between Erbil and Baghdad following the referendum on independence.

This is what the Chaldean patriarchate underlines in a statement published at the end of the Synod, which was held in Rome from October 4 to 8. In the text, the leaders of the Iraqi Church also expressed the "solidarity and pride" of the Christian community, which has been able to keep the "faith" alive.

Signed by Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako and the bishops present, the statement highlights the "results" of the Iraqi forces and the recent victories over the Islamic jihadists; the wish of the Iraqi Church, is that there will soon be celebrations for "the liberation of the entire territory of Iraq".

In the "difficult circumstances" of the Middle East, and in particular Syria and Iraq, the bishops trace a "visionary and realistic view of all the challenges" facing "our country, our Church and the Christians of the region."

Chief among them is the "emigration" and the common commitment to promoting policies and plans that ensure the survival of families - displaced and non - and encourage the return of those who in the past have chosen to emigrate.

"Despite the persecution we have experienced," continues the patriarchal note, "we have kept the flame of faith and hope in the hearts firmly alive, without fanaticism but with deep respect for the other Christian communities [Assyrian, Syriac, Armenia]. It affirms our membership of our Church, our family in a spirit of solidarity, sacrifice, mutual love and responsibility. " he leaders of the Iraqi Church also ask for prayers "to nourish priestly and monastic vocations" in a clerical crisis.

In these days, Chaldean Bishops and Patriarch Sako met Pope Francis, who renewed the invitation to the Iraqi Church to act as an element of peace and stability in the country and in the world. An even more urgent engagement in a period of hardship and divisions within the same Iraqi institutions that threaten national unity.

The reference is to the September 25 independence referendum, promoted by Iraqi Kurdistan on. Voting was also held in the controversial territory of Kirkuk and ended with an overwhelming victory in favor (over 90% yes). "We are very concerned about the developments in the country's political situation, particularly the referendum crisis," the Patriarch notes. We invite all parties to "calm," and "not to escalate" tensions, renewing the commitment to "courageous dialogue" as the only "safe way" to "overcome the crisis".

In this regard, Msgr. Shlemon Audish Warduni, auxiliary bishop of Baghdad, speaks to AsiaNews of a "slight improvement" in the situation because there are "attempts at dialogue" and "steps towards an opening" between Baghdad and Erbil. Hence the pressing appeal to "dialogue and reconciliation" addressed to both parties.

We must continue to be a "sign of hope," concludes Patriarch Sako, and remain "confident" so that "there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel."


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