Young Iraqi Christians to recite Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic before Pope

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James Macintyre
Pope Francis delivers the Angelus prayer in Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican
A proportion of some 200 young Christians from all around Iraq will recite the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic before the Pope at World Youth Day (WYD) in Krakow later this month.

The group, who come largely from Baghdad, Kirkuk and Erbil, will be accompanied by the Chaldean Bishop Basel Salim Yaldo and Archbishop Bashar Warda from Erbil, along with a dozen priests and seven nuns.

Also present will be some young refugees who live in the capital of the Autonomous Region of Iraqi Kurdistan, after being forced to abandon the villages in the Nineveh Plain with their families.

On July 19, before leaving for Poland, the young Iraqis will prepare with a day of prayers, songs and sacramental celebrations marked by the Jubilee Year of Mercy, according to Fides news service.

In Krakow, during the celebration of the Via Crucis, some of them will say the ‘Our Father’ prayer in the language of Jesus. “Celebrating the practice, with which the Church relives the Passion of Christ, we will also look at the suffering of our country in the light of the suffering of Jesus,” said Bishop Basel Yaldo. “In those days Iraqi boys and girls will exchange the story of their experiences with young people from all over the world. And on our return, we will convene a national meeting where young people who were in Krakow will tell all their experience. So we can see for ourselves that one can live Christian hope and joyful communion with the whole Church, despite the difficult conditions we live in. So we will realize that there is no need to flee, emigrate, and that it is nice to live the gift of Christian joy in the places where we were born, and where we met Jesus, listening to the proclamation of the Gospel”.

There are 600,000 registered pilgrims from around the world descending on Krakow at the end of July but numbers are expected to swell to as many as two million by the final Sunday Mass at the festival.

The themes this year include faith, family, justice and mercy. Poland has been allowed to suspend the Schengen freedom-of-movement agreement until 2 August, because of World Youth Day and an earlier NATO summit. WYD will be the largest single gathering of bishops alone since the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.