Patriarch Sako: Pandemic strengthens Islamic-Christian spirituality and solidarity

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The coronavirus has re-launched “human and social solidarity” in fighting “for our common home”. Christians distribute aid to Muslims, solidarity without religious distinctions. Thousands of people follow mass every evening broadcast through the patriarchate’s social media. Best wishes to Muslims for the beginning of Ramadan.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – During the coronavirus emergency, even in Iraq “there have been episodes of great help and solidarity between Christians and Muslims”, a “human and social proximity” that has materialized “in many ways: in the same neighborhood a richer person distributes food bags to the needy”.

This is what the Chaldean primate, Card Louis Raphael Sako, tells AsiaNews, recounting the situation of the Arab country in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has so far caused almost 1700 infections and 83 official victims. “Even the Iraqi Church – added the cardinal – worked hard by donating 90 thousand dollars, distributed to the various parishes and that the priests used to help people, without distinction of religion”.

Aid and solidarity that, in these weeks, run along a double track. “Even some mosques and Muslims – Patriarch Sako says – are helping and their work has benefited some Christians. In an emergency, when a person comes to ask for help there is no discrimination. “

He continues:  “Aid has also favored a return to religion, or rather to faith … There is a need for God, for supernatural help, for a reason for the meaning of life and the world. This also impels a conversion, a return to spiritual values ??”.

Although the Baghdad government has loosened some closures, there is still widespread fear among people, who are frightened to go out. Many actually, Card Sako says, “do not respect a law, but follow instinct and stay at home, using the internet and mobile phone to keep in touch, get news, follow liturgies such as the mass that we celebrate every evening and transmit on the Facebook page of the Chaldean patriarchate “.

Thousands of families connect and follow mass. “The houses – explains the cardinal – have become real domestic churches, the spirituality has strengthened and also the link with the Chaldeans of the diaspora”. On the occasion of Easter, the network and social networks made it possible to keep relationships with the community across the country alive, in a phase of imprisonment and distancing “because the virus knows no boundaries, even if the climate or other factors may have helped to limit the infections “.

“For Easter – the patriarch confides – we received many letters and messages of good wishes, including from Muslim religious leaders and political authorities, including the Iraqi president and the new Prime Minister. Among the many greetings, one struck me in a particular way: a Muslim religious authority who used the word “feast of resurrection” and told me that “Christ is truly risen”. I was very impressed. “

The coronavirus emergency “will change reality, we will have to look for a new order, strengthen solidarity and respect life, just wars, weapons, take care of the environment and fight against pollution, take care of our common home” continues the Chaldean primate.

“I am convinced – he adds – that in the future there will be no more wars of religion or civilization, but conflicts of an increasingly economic nature”. That is why “greater social justice, equality between nations will be needed, the poor can no longer be neglected. The world order desired by the US in the early 2000s is now over. “

Lastly, Card Sako addresses Muslims for the beginning (today in Iraq) of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and Islamic prayer. “Religion has a message, it comes from God and the center is man who must live in respect and dignity. Enough of violence and sectarian clashes, a society worthy of all citizens must be built. This is a time of love and mercy, not of violence. Christians, Jews, Muslims … the religious message is not only for a specific group but is for everyone, every man must live his own spirituality with God”.