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Apr. 02, 2018

Chaldean patriarch: Easter, the strength of the Risen Christ who overcomes divisions and suffering

In his message to the faithful, Mar Sako cites the humiliation of Iraqi citizens who lost "security, stability and wealth" as a result of war and terrorism. He calls on his fellow Iraqis to “work together” to overcome differences in "religion, race, [and] colour". The upcoming elections will be an opportunity for "change" for a "strong and prosperous" nation.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – Chaldean Patriarch Mar Louis Raphael Sako released his Easter message to the faithful today and sent it to AsiaNews.

In it, he describes Iraq as the "cradle of civilisation", a country of "fortune and glory" that was transformed into a place of "disasters" by the "wicked who came to rob and kill’ which has meant a loss of “security, stability and wealth” so that many of its citizens now feel "humiliated".

However, this background of violence and tragedy "should not make us despair". On the contrary, the Iraqi people "must observe these events with the gaze of faith" in the risen Christ and "analyse it from an historical and political point of view".

Addressing the faithful who marking in Holy Week celebrations with enthusiasm and participation, His Beatitude exhorts them to use difficulties as an "element of unity".

He urges them to "work together" for the future of the country, overcoming "differences in religion, race, colour or the concept of majority and minority".

This opportunity must be exploited to "build trust" and work "hand in hand" to put an end to suffering [. . .] by accepting our being different."

From 2003 to now, the Christian population in Iraq has more than halved. The numbers confirm the outflow: from about a million and half in 2000 to about half a million today.

The US war in Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein gave extremists an excuse to attack Christians as proxies of the American invaders, up to the rise of the Islamic State whose violence and terror forced many to flee.

"Every Iraqi citizen must feel responsible from a moral and national perspective for this situation,” says the Chaldean patriarch. At the same time, everyone “can contribute personally or in group” to solving it.

To overcome difficulties, one must overcome a "conventional" mindset and promote "the notion of citizenship" by adopting a "language of peace, solidarity and affection.”

Citing the upcoming political elections in May, he said that they represent a "golden opportunity" for "change".

For this reason, "I urge all Iraqis to vote for the best possible candidate, that our wishes may become reality" and benefit “a strong and prosperous nation at the social, economic, educational and cultural levels.”

In such a place, the law will "protect" the weak and be the same for everyone. "Iraq is for all of us; it is our identity and our refuge.” At the same time, “The religious sphere concerns only God and must be protected from distortions and politicizations."

In his plea, Mar Sako calls on people "to vote aware that (the Creator) wants us to live as brothers and sisters with pride, freedom, dignity and happiness. He is the God of life, peace, love, and mercy."

Finally, the primate of the Iraqi Church notes that “We must always carry in our hearts the message of resurrection that Christ entrusts us at Easter". This means that we "live with passion" as an element of strength and change.

"We have seen orphans, widows, and homeless people overcome sorrow after meeting someone who shared their pain, loved them and gave them hope."

"The resurrection means that God loves us as a father and that we are in his hands.”

“Do you believe in me? This is the question that we are asked amid our tragedies, that we may change our way of thinking and face every element of life."