On Wednesday morning, March 27, 2019, a prayer service held by the Chaldean Church in Iraq at the Church of St. Paul in Mosul, with candles and flowers on the altar and around it for the sake of all victims’ souls of the “death” ferry accident on 21 March 2019.
His Eminence Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako led the prayers in the presence of His Excellency Archbishop Alberto Ortega Martin, the Vatican Ambassador in Iraq, who read a letter from His Holiness Pope Francis to all Iraqis. Chaldean Bishops, Mar Michael Maqdassy, Mar Bashar Warda, Mar Basilios Yaldo, Mar Robert Saeed Jarjis also participated together with Fr. Noel Farman, Patriarch’s secretary, Fr. Ephrem Gilyana, the Head of Saint Peter Seminary, Monsignor Thabet Polous Habeeb and other priests. Members of the “Task Force” committee, established by the Prime Minister and officials in Nineveh Province attended the prayers in addition to Christians of the area and officials, expressing their deep sorrow for this disastrous incident. They united in praying, may God turn out this tragedy to a blessing of life, peace and stability of this devastated City. Before closing the service, His Eminence Cardinal Sako donated $20,000 to the “Task force committee” as a contribution of the Chaldean Church in Iraq to help the aggrieved families. The following is His Eminence Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako’s message to Mosul inhabitants: Message to Mosul Inhabitants Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako Patriarch of the Chaldean Church Being here at this time, to pray with you is an expression of sharing our deep sorrow for the great loss of devastated Mosul. Around couple hundreds of innocent people, most of whom were women and children lost their lives in a sinking ferry last Thursday, March 21, 2019 in the Tigris River. We came here to assure our love, closeness and solidarity with the anguished families and all people of Mosul. On such “troubled” occasion, we call upon all political, social and religious leaders in the province of Nineveh to unite for the sake of Mosul and its’ people who have suffered so much from such a tragedy, which is like a “horrible earthquake”. Even though, the ferry that carries the name of “Peace”, took so many people into death, let us hope that this heartbreaking accident can be turned into an opportunity for intensifying efforts of all the people of Mosul to turn it to a ferry of life and peace. It may strengthen them to face the challenges; motivate them to fulfill the requirements of peace, security and stability; and to start the process of reconstruction, away from political disputes, revenge and politicization of the incident toward certain agendas that do not serve the city and its’ inhabitants, but rather to drive them to despair and pessimism. The establishment of a “Task Force” by the Iraqi prime minister is a positive sign. Therefore, we must cooperate with them enthusiastically and involve everyone, to make this event a chance to create better humanitarian, social and economic conditions for this city. Due to the current “difficult” situation of Iraq, it seems hard for the State alone to carry out all these tasks. Consequently, there is an urgent need to have a committee of honest and sincere people who can start fund-raisings both inside and outside Iraq to rebuild what was destroyed by ISIS, especially the right side of the city that is characterized by its’ historical features. As a Church, we will join hands and support whatever is for the good of the city, its’ unity, security, stability in order to encourage the return of displaced families. We hope to see the “revival” of Mosul by the joined effort of all its’ inhabitants. We are praying to have this dream come true. The presence of His Excellency the Vatican Nuncio, Archbishop Ortega with us today is an extra support for what we are hoping to achieve. We pray for the healing of those “afflicted” by this tragedy. May God shower them with His compassion and mercy and inspire their families with patience and comfort.