Iraqi Christians urge solidarity

BEIRUT, Lebanon,(UPI) — Church leaders from Iraq met in Lebanon to discuss their commitment to playing an active role in the redevelopment of their country.
Archbishops Louis Sako of the Chaldean Church in Kirkuk, Basilios Georges Casmoussa of the Syrian Catholic Church in Mosul and Elder Yussef al-Saka of the Presbyterian Church in Baghdad were among 12 representatives from the Christian church in Iraq who addressed the plight of the minority religious group.

Calling the Christians the “authentic children of the land,” the church leaders stressed equality and coexistence among the varied ethnic and religious groups in Iraq, reports the summit’s organizer, the World Council of Churches.

The majority of the Christian population in Iraq is centered in the north of the country near the city of Mosul. The group witnessed a spate of targeted attacks in 2008, displacing nearly half of the minority religious group to nearby Syria.

The Christian leaders urged their congregants to stay in their communities in order to play an active role in the educational and social institutions in an effort to contribute to national reconciliation.

“Christians have belonged to Iraq since the nation’s birth,” the leaders said.