Iraq (Wednesday, July 12, 2017, Gaudium Press) A statement by the Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon, Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, on the tragic situations of Christians in Iraq, follows:
Iraqi Christians and others in Mosul (10/June/2014) and the towns of Nineveh Plain (7/August/2014 went through a catastrophic and sore experience, which was tragic and more than painful. However, since these areas are currently liberated by the joined efforts and sacrifices of the Iraqi Armed Forces, we believe that there is still a long and difficult way to go, for eliminating ISIS radically from the region, in order to rebuild what has been destroyed and to achieve peace, security and stability.
In such circumstances, it is very important that Iraqis, especially Christians, review and evaluate the situation, learn the lesson and realize that they must return quickly to grasp their lands before others seize them, instead of wasting time in waiting, disputing and dividing the community. Now, it is the right time to adhere effectually to; the land of their parents and grandparents; their identity; history; and heritage. The fact that we are the indigenous people of this country, its’ ancient civilizations and that our history is traced back to the oldest Christian Church in the world, should be kept in our mind always.
It is a historic moment and a criterion test for Christians to; renew their ethical and moral commitment; confirm their presence; recover their properties; claim compensation for their loss; obtain their share of aid; in addition to securing protection in cooperation with the Iraqi Central Government, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), as well as the International Community.
1. Joining efforts to rebuild houses and rehabilitate the infrastructure so as to facilitate the return of displaced people to their homes, in peace. Since this region has suffered from neglect throughout history, it is advised to stay away from the topics that may complicate the return and the reconstruction efforts.
2. Forming a small, effective team of 7-10 wise, capable with loyal politicians, to be Christians’ spokesmen who can bear responsibility in the spirit of one team and communicate with the right people nationally and internationally. We believe that what binds them together is still there, but requires; the renunciation of personal interest, solidarity and cooperation; forgetting previous differences; as well as engaging of Muslims and other ethnical groups in public life, constructively and effectively. This will prove that, even though the number of Christians has been declined recently, their existence and performance should not retreat or fall back.
3. Opening a central media bureau that should be branded by a broad vision, to do a professional job in; making Christians’ voice heard; and shedding light on their suffering and aspirations. This will help them to; overcome the complexities of the current reality and transform their differences into constructive unity, cohesion, solidarity and active participation in strengthening their existence on one hand; and to promote a culture of openness that will help attaining peace, stability and a decent life for them and their citizens, on the other hand.
On this occasion, I affirm that the Church is not a substitute for loyal politicians and not even parallel to them. It rather plays a vital role in persons’ life by saying the truth about public affairs, especially when it comes to peace building, justice and the need to provide a decent life for all citizens, regardless of their affiliations. The Church continues to love and serve “all people”, following the example of its’ founder, Jesus Christ.
Finally, I ask God to; protect all Iraqis; enable the displaced return and live in peace with their Muslim, Yazidis, Turkman and Shabak neighbors that they work together to build confidence and create a new and a better future based on their past “and historical” experience of coexistence.