Muslims Expect Much From Christians, Says Chaldean Leader

Archbishop-Designate of Kirkuk on the Iraq Situation

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BAGHDAD, Iraq, OCT. 2, 2003 ( At a time of vengeance in Iraq, «Christians are called to show forgiveness and reconciliation,» says the archbishop-designate of the Archeparchy of Kirkuk of the Chaldeans.

Archbishop-designate Louis Sako, who had been a parish priest at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Mosul, had his archiepiscopal appointment confirmed by the Pope last week.

«We must work for reconciliation,» the archbishop-designate said. «There is a Christian minister in the new national government. It might be the beginning of a presence which in any case must spread to small centers and peripheral institutions. The Muslims expect much from us.»

He said he believes «that encouragement must be given to every effort for dialogue and forgiveness so as not to fall into a dangerous path for the future of the country.»

As is traditional in Eastern-rite Churches, the election of the new archbishop was carried out within the Synod of Bishops of the Chaldean Church. The synod met in Baghdad from Sept. 16-24. The Pope gave his consent to the election in order to ratify the Chaldean Church’s communion with the universal Church.

«Life is slowly getting back to normal» in Iraq, the archbishop-designate told SIR, the news service of the Italian bishops’ conference. «The attacks against Americans are perpetrated not so much by Iraqis as by Arabs. However, the entire population says it’s pleased with the change» of regime.

«After 35 years of dictatorship, two wars with 1 million dead, 12 years of embargo, and over a million emigrants, today one can think and live freely again,» he continued.

Yet, much remains to be done in terms of peace, which «is the fruit of a plan and a long path,» he added. «The people must be educated in peace, dialogue — and this is not achieved with arms.»

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