How These Iraqi Christians Are Standing For Peace During Holy Week

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Palm Sunday marks the beginning of an 80-mile peace march Iraqi Christians will take to protest the Islamic state and the violent acts they’ve committed throughout the Middle East, according to the Catholic Herald.

About 100 people attended the Sunday morning mass in Irbil, which kicked off the march scheduled to run through Holy Week.

“They will walk from Irbil to Alqosh in the Ninevah Plain, needing one week or more because the journey is very long, some 87 miles,” Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad told Catholic News Service. “I will join them in a village near Alqosh on Holy Thursday.”

Sako said the march is a “great occasion for unity” and he believes there is an opportunity to stand against the violence that has scarred Iraq.

In 2003, more than one million Christians were living in Iraq in 2003, but today’s numbers are closer to 250,000.

Many Iraqi Christians were either killed by the Islamic State or fled. However, now that U.S.-led coalition forces have taken several cities back for ISIS, the focus has returned to rebuilding homes and churches once destroyed by the terror group.

Sako said he hopes the peace initiative will be the start of “a real resurrection, a quick return of displaced to their homes, and a restoration of peace at our churches, country, and the whole world.”

“Peace must be achieved by us [religious leaders] as well as politicians, through courageous initiatives and responsible decisions,” he said.