Chaldean bishops: “God save Iraq and the Iraqi people”

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“Hasn’t Iraq suffered enough, with all the mass assassinations and people being forced to flee their homes?” The Synod of Chaldean Bishops is appealing to the consciences of Iraq’s various components at this horrific moment the country is going through following yet another mass exodus of Christians from the city of Qaraqosh.

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria 's (ISIS) Jihadist militant forces have struck the city with mortar fire. The Synod’s leader, the Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church of Babylon, Raphael Sako, made his official position clear once again, with an eloquent invocation: “God save Iraq and the Iraqi people.” These words alone say all there is to say about the depth of the dark abyss this part of the world risks falling into right now.

Amid mounting pressure for the election of a new government, Shiite prime minister Nouri Al Maliki has been unwilling to give into requests for a national unity government that would encompass Sunni politicians. It is this obstinacy the Chaldean Synod has spoken out against as such a stance can only lead to civil war.

Patriarch Sako’s message comes directly from Ankawa, a predominantly Christian suburb of the city of Erbil, where the Synod of Chaldean bishops are concluding their meeting.

The Synod took place just as Ankawa, located in the autonomous region of Kurdistan, found itself in the midst of a new humanitarian crisis sparked by the arrival of refugees from Qaraqosh, the main Christian city in the Nineveh Plain. On Thursday, Qaraqosh’s 50 thousand inhabitants fled from the city within just a few hours as the bombs started to fall.

“In the midst of the tragic circumstances that are currently being witnessed , the bishops of the Chaldean Church gathered here from all over the world for their annual meeting, are appealing to all the country’s leaders to ensure the unity of all components of the Iraqi home is preserved. It invites parties to sit down together and engage in a courageous dialogue that can bring the country out of this long tunnel which could lead dangerously – God forbid - towards civil war or division.”

“Hasn’t Iraq suffered enough, with all the mass assassinations and people being forced to flee their homes?” the Patriarch continued. “There are thousands of families that have had to flee Iraqi cities and villages and their living conditions are deplorable. We are appealing for the speedy formation of a new national unity government that unites all components and verifies the stability, security and reliability of basis services as quickly as possible, especially now that we are about to enter the sizzling month of Ramadan, the month of fasting, prayer and penitence.”

The leader of the Chaldean Church, the largest majority by far among Iraq’s Christians, called upon the entire world to take responsibility for this part of the world: “We invite the international community and the great powers to help the Iraqi people find a political solution that is acceptable to all, sparing the country from ruin and destruction. God save Iraq and the Iraqi people,” he said.

Meanwhile in Qaraqosh, the epicentre of the new Iraqi Christian tragedy, homes remain empty and a local defence committee has stayed behind along with the Syro-Catholic bishop Yohanna Petros Moshe to protect the ghost town. ISIS militants did not enter the inhabited centre but fired mortar shells against the Kurdish Peshmerga forces that are trying to hold ISIS back.

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By Giorgio Bernardelli