Iraqi Prelate Says U.S. and Allies Must Defend Christians

Chaldean Archbishop Assails Attacks on Churches

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BAGHDAD, Iraq, SEPT. 10, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Iraqi Christians are a key ingredient for the region’s balance, says a Catholic archbishop who appealed to the Americans and allies to defend them from the attacks of foreign extremists.

This message was sent today by Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk of the Chaldeans, to a congress held in the Italian monastery of Camaldoli, at the initiative of Il Regno magazine.

After assessing the situation in Iraq, the prelate explained that “Christians are an indispensable elite for the region’s balance, given their scientific and moral formation and their tolerance.”

In this country of 25 million inhabitants, the Shiite Muslims constitute 62%, the Sunnis 34%, and the Christians 3% to 4%.

Christians “are an important element of that culture of dialogue and reconciliation that is a necessary premise of peace,” Archbishop Sako said.

“Their presence is as important for our land as the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. This is the reason there are four Christians among the members of the National Assembly,” he said.

“The attacks against the churches a few weeks ago had the objective of radicalizing the country’s de-stabilization,” the prelate continued. “To attain this objective, it is useful to explode a hospital in the air, to put a bomb in the market, or to organize an attack against a police station.”

“It is a totally political confrontation, as the action undertaken by Muqtada Al Sadr was political,” he said referring to the radical cleric.

“Perhaps, in the plan of some [non-Iraqi] extremists, there is the objective that Christians should leave the country so that it will be totally Muslim,” the archbishop said.

“I think that the Americans and allies have the obvious responsibility to make every effort to put an end to this absurd situation, thus saving the democratic and representative model that allows Christians to dedicate themselves to the educational endeavor and to the formation of Iraqis in the culture of peace, dialogue and reciprocal respect,” he said.

“If this objective is not achieved,” he added, “I think that the Americans and allies would lose all respect and credibility in the world.”

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