Ankawa (AsiaNews) - Fielding "all possible efforts" at every level, "local and international" for the "liberation of the Nineveh plain" and allowing displaced Christians return to their homes. Moreover, efforts to "find jobs" for the unemployed and provide "schools" for students to ensure their education and future. These are the major issues that have emerged from the emergency meeting of the representatives of the Catholic Churches of Iraq, recently held in the summer seat of the Chaldean Patriarchate in Ankawa, a predominantly Christian suburb north of Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan.
The meeting headed by His Beatitude Mar Louis Raphael I Sako, and attended by the Apostolic Nuncio, Msgr. Giorgio Lingua and a group of prelates, including the archbishop of Mosul, Msgr. Amel Nona. The patriarch and bishops aimed to "join efforts" to provide "suggestions and guidlines" that can help "our children" to lead "a decent life".
The leaders of the Iraqi Church in the first place commented on the "miracle" so far that has allowed them to ensure housing, shelter and comfort to hundreds of thousands of displaced people fleeing the troops of the Islamic State that has conquered large swathes of Iraq and neighboring Syria. In particular the bishops thanked, "the Pope for his encouragement," his "statement" of support and solidarity, as well as "material aid and all that has been done by the Holy See" for the country and throughout the Middle East.
Stable employment, long-term housing and schools in order to continue education for young people are still today, months after the beginning of the crisis, the priorities that Church leaders must confront and resolve to secure the future of the Christian community in Iraq. First, they warn, it is essential to continue "the program of private accommodation for our children, who are living under temporary roofs to protect them from the winter cold and rain."
Addressing the issue of migration, Patriarch Sako and the bishops remember that the Church "without promoting" the exodus, "respects the decision of the people and families who want to leave the country." The Church of Iraq "does not restrict the freedom of citizens to choose their own future," but continues to "pray to the Lord" and to work to ensure that "the crisis is short term and peace can return, as in the past".
Finally, the Iraqi Catholic leadership renews its "call to live the commandment of love", following the example and living witness of Jesus Christ, because even in this time of "trial" signs of a renewed "hope" are visible. And they ask the faithful to have "patience and mutual support," so that their suffering can be transformed "into a positive force".