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IRAQ
from issue no. 02/03 - 2010

“The Pope does good even from afar”


“And one thing I remember well: the Pope’s words for us Iraqis in the Angelus of Sunday 28 February. We were all pleased, Christians and Muslims”. Notes by the Chaldean Patriarch Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly on his visit to Mosul


by the Chaldean Patriarch Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly


Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

When I went to Mosul, the governor and the director of security also wanted to call me, and together with my confrere Emil Nona, the local Chaldean archbishop, we met them. In our country, Christians and Muslims have been together for centuries; we only ask for peace, and in fact our interlocutors said they were sorry for what has happened and continues to happen, and they are sincere.
We know and we repeat, this violence does not spare our beloved Muslim fellow citizens, all the people of Iraq experience it. In Al Kosh, a village near Mosul, I visited the convent of Our Lady of the Sowing, where families of Christians have fled from threats; others I had already met in Mosul, they too seeking refuge in the convent of Saint George. Fathers, mothers, children and babies have had to abandon everything they had, apart from faith in the Lord.
The leaders, I said, expressed their regret. Well and good. But who defends these poor people? They are victims of bandits, whom we don’t know. But that is no reason why we can’t say that the Christians need help.
Someone comes to me and asks: why all this uproar every time the victims of violence are Christians? Of course, I also say that the evil in Iraq affects all the people, but I do have an answer: the violence against Christians stirs emotions because it comes down on the most peaceful, the most defenseless of people. Their weapons are prayers and love of the Lord. So far 425 families of Christians have fled from Mosul and they will not tell you that they left because someone threatened them, but they’ll blame their own fear.
They’re right to fear, but sooner or later they will return. I hope so, and I ask it of everyone. I repeat to them that when this wave has passed we shall win, not us alone, but with the One who gives us strength, the Lord with us.
In Mosul I preached at low mass. I said “‘Don’t be afraid’ is the good news of the Lord for us”. We must not be afraid. Although they have tried everything against us, it is not in their power to destroy us, because our faith is concrete, is strong, and our journey will continue. The legacy of our fathers of the faith will not be buried, will not go out.
We are from Iraq, history testifies to it. And if we have stayed here it is to build our country, along with everyone, and particularly with men of good will. We do not ask that they offer us soothing words or surround us with false illusions, or show compassion towards us. Nor do we want alarming words that increase the tension, from whatever source, including our own. Instead we need concrete steps to overcome the problems of security, to build bridges of confidence. And to ward off suffering from the homes of our people. We ask for humanity and charity, hands full of peace and not full of deceit. That the fate of Iraqi Christians not be a game to be played in the arenas of politics.
At mass I said: “Waiting for Easter, let us continue to pray and keep the practice of our fasting”. That hearts may return to God and do penance. Let us ask Mary to protect our country under the tents of charity, she who is the mother of succor, and we in these days need it so much.
In Mosul, I was able to meet with local Sunni leaders, and in fact they expressed their solidarity to me.
And one thing I remember well: the Pope’s words for us Iraqis in the Angelus of Sunday 28 February. We were all pleased, Christians and Muslims. The Pope does good even from afar.


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