Patriarch Sako hopes Iraq will not become a war zone

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Patriarch Louis Rafael Sako Source: Vatican News Patriarch Louis Rafael Sako, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, issued a strong appeal on Saturday in the wake of the US drone strike in Baghdad which killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, and the protests which followed.

The Patriarch’s appeal followed a day in which thousands of persons took the streets of Iraq’s capital mourning the death of General Soleimani in Baghdad and shouting anti-US slogans. Toward evening, one rocket hit Baghdad’s Green Zone, a heavily fortified area near the US Embassy. Another hit the nearby neighbourhood of Jadriya, and two others were directed toward Balad air base. According to an Iraqi military statement, no one has been reported killed as a result of these rocket attacks and no one has claimed responsibility.

In a tweet on Saturday, US President Donald Trump warned Iran that the US has already selected 52 sites that will be attacked “very fast and very hard”, “if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets.” The number 52 is symbolic of the 52 US hostages held in Iran between 1979 and 1981.

The Catholic Chaldean Patriarch appealed:

“Iraqis are still shocked by what happened last week. It is deplorable that our country should be transformed into a place where scores are settled, rather than being a sovereign nation, capable of protecting its own land, its own wealth, its own citizens. In the face of this delicate and dangerous situation, we implore all the parties involved to exercise moderation, to demonstrate wisdom, to act reasonably and to sit down at the negotiating table to dialogue and seek understanding so that this country might be spared unimaginable consequences.

“We lift our prayer to Almighty God so that He might grant Iraq and the region that peaceful, stable, safe ‘normal life’ that we desire.”

The Auxiliary Bishop of the Patriarchate of Babylon, Bishop Mar Shlemon Warduni said in an interview with Vatican News that a new war in Iraq would be terrible for the population and for the Christian community. It is always the weakest who pay the consequences of armed conflict, he said.

Yesterday, Pope Francis prayed for peace in a tweet: “We must believe that others need peace just as much as we do. Peace will not be obtained unless it is hoped for. Let us ask the Lord for the gift of peace!”

Speaking after the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis urged nations to exercise self-control and dialogue.

“War brings only death and destruction,” he said.

Without referring to any specific countries, the Pope said there is a “terrible air of tension” in many parts of the world… I call upon all parties to fan the flame of dialogue and self-control, and to banish the shadow of enmity,” he said.

The Pope then invited everyone to pray for peace.

Tags: Iran, Iraq, Peace, Bishop Mar Shlemon Warduni, Patriarch Sako, Patriarch Louis Rafael Sako, Pope Francis

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