Pope Francis embraces the Primate of the Chaldean Church, Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, during his audience with Chaldean Bishops
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged leaders of the Chaldean Church to be builders of unity, favouring dialogue and collaboration between all actors of Iraqi society.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:
The Pope was addressing bishops in Rome for the Synod of the Chaldeans, taking place from 4 to 8 October. The Chaldean Church is headed by Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, Archbishop of Baghdad.
Amongst the main topics of discussion are the Kurdish referendum and the return of Christian refugees in the Nineveh Plain.
A time of hope for the region
Noting that this meeting comes at a time of need and of hope for the region, Pope Francis said together with all Iraqis, religious leaders are called to face issues such as the forced migration of Christians, the reconstruction of villages, the return of many displaced people as well as liturgical and pastoral issues.
“This is an occasion for me, the Pope said, to send my greetings to the sorely tested faithful of the beloved Iraqi nation” and to share the hope that stems from the resumption of life and activity “in regions and cities that were subjected to painful and violent oppression”.
While a tragic page of history has been concluded, he said, there remains much to do.
Builders of unity
“I exhort you to work tirelessly as builders of unity” he said.
He spoke of the need for unity within the Chaldean Church and with pastors of other Churches, and of the need to favour dialogue and collaboration in a concerted effort to facilitate the return of the displaced and heal divisions and contrasts between brothers.
Commenting on a situation of uncertainty for the future, Francis talked of the need for a national reconciliation process and for a joint effort on the part of all components of society to work out solutions for the good of the entire nation.
Reflecting on the historical significance of the region as a land of ancient evangelization, of civilization, encounter and dialogue, he exhorted the bishops never to be discouraged in the face of inevitable difficulties, and he highlighted the importance of unity between Christians in the promotion of respectful relationships and interreligious dialogue.
Ecclesial and liturgical concerns
On a different note, the Pope gave directions to the bishops regarding the need for accompaniment and formation of priests and seminarians, whom, he said, must be well grounded in four different dimensions: the human one, the spiritual one, the pastoral one and the intellectual one.
He spoke of his concern for the theme of the Diaspora which, he said, must be ‘rethought’ taking into consideration the situations in which ecclesial communities find themselves, both from a numerical and a religious freedom point of view.
“Everything possible must be done in order to bring the aims of the Second Vatican Council into effect, facilitating pastoral care in those regions where Oriental communities are well established, and promoting communion and fraternity with Latin Rite communities in order to provide the faithful with good witness and avoid protracting divisions and contrasts” he said.
Need for ecumenical and interreligious dialogue
Ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, he noted, must be rooted in Catholic unity and communion: “the Congregation for Oriental Churches will support you in this.”
Pope Francis concluded his speech expressing his hope that this Synod may provide a time of fruitful debate and fraternal reflection for the beloved Chaldean Church.