In his message, the cardinal recalls the wave of violence linked to the repression of anti-government protests. Since 2003 the dream of a strong and peaceful country “has never been realized”. The invitation to bishops and priests: “Christians and Muslims” together in solidarity, on a “spiritual and humanitarian” path.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) – It is “very sad” that the holidays this year arrive in “such painful circumstances”, when “the wounds of the Islamic State have not yet healed” and a new wave of violence, linked to anti-government protests, has shed new blood on the country.
The Christmas message – published last night and sent to AsiaNews – by the Chaldean patriarch Card Louis Raphael Sako opens with a reminder of current events. “It is unfortunate that Iraqis are unable to find an effective way to put the country on the right track, eliminate sectarianism, corruption, illegal enrichment, and the unfair seize of public and private properties, despite the numerous appeals from inside and outside Iraq”.
The Chaldean primate remembers the tragedy, now in the past at least on the military level, of the Islamic State which has kept most of the nation in check for years. Today, instead, “ongoing violence, poverty, unemployment and poor services that have pushed thousands of people, especially youth, to demonstrate peacefully”. They ask only “to live a life of dignity and freedom, in a stable, secure, strong and independent homeland”.
“Since 2003 – the cardinal argues – this dream has not been realized and our hearts are still full of sorrow and anxiety for the large number of casualties and thousands of injured Iraqis”.
The message for Christmas comes in a critical context for Iraq, which since October 1 has been rocked by a vast movement of protest against government and authority. The demonstrations, forcilbly suppressed by the police, led to the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, but the demonstrators – without ethnic, sectarian or religious distinctions – aim at the fall of the entire political class.
The tightening was strengthened at the end of November, following the double assault on the Iranian consulate in Najaf, and caused a total of over 450 deaths and 20,000 injured. To honor the memory of the victims and contribute to the care of the wounded (mostly Muslim), the cardinal decided to cancel the celebrations and celebrations related to Christmas, donating the money saved to hospitals or investing it in the purchase of medicines.
The value of Christmas, observes Card Sako, is in the word of Christ the Savior who aspires to the ideals of “peace, justice, freedom, dignity, fraternity, love and happiness”. Jesus was born, he continues, “so that we are reborn to new life in him “. In this Middle East marked by suffering “we meditate even more deeply on the message of Christmas” to “make it our own in everyday life”. Following his path, he warns, “makes the human being even more human and allows him to live with dignity”.
Today, he underlines, there is a climate of “sadness” and “we are looking for hope and consolation” in the face of escalating violence. No one knows where the country is headed and “for this in such a delicate situation, I invite all politicians and security officials to listen to the voice of the people”. It is essential “to avert a military solution” that will certainly “lead to more casualties and injuries”.
Card Sako appeals for “courageous dialogue” with the demonstrators to give light to a nationwide project to save Iraq and its inhabitants.
In this context, he urges bishops and priests (especially in Iraq) to “show closeness” and be at the service of “Christians, Muslims” by accompanying them “on the spiritual and humanitarian level” always keeping in mind “the example of Jesus Christ”.
“I express – concludes the Chaldean patriarch – my closeness to all Iraqis and express my condolences to the families of the victims and the wounded” both among the demonstrators and among the security forces.