ROME, OCT. 24, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The Chaldean archbishop of Baghdad is asking the international community to take care of Iraq, and to “not to leave it on the sidelines.”
Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans and archbishop of Baghdad, said this as thousands of Iraqi Christians are fleeing the northern city of Mosul after receiving messages that all Christians should leave the city or be killed.
A spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees told reporters today that more than 13,000 Christians have fled Mosul during the last two weeks, which is more than half of the total number of Christians living in the city.
The U.N. agency estimates that some 400 Christians have fled to Syria, which is already hosting at least 1.2 million Iraqi refugees. It is unclear who is behind the death threats, the spokesman added.
“As an authority in Iraq, and as an Iraqi,” Cardinal Delly told ZENIT, “I ask those responsible to take care of Iraq, and all Iraqis, and to be at the service of all humanity, to progress in righteousness and holiness, so that everyone will look to Iraqis as brothers, so that Iraqis will regain their dignity.”
“I ask you to care for Iraq, and not leave it on the sidelines,” he added.
When asked about the relationship between Christians and Muslims in Iraq, the patriarch said, “For a long time, we have lived with each other in love and brotherhood. Dialogue is not in words.
“We have been living it through out communal life, and our mutual works and interests with our Muslim brothers for the last 14 centuries.
“This is what dialogue means: I respect the Muslim faith and Islam respects my faith. Religion is for God and the nation is for everyone.”
Addressing the world Synod of Bishops on the Word of God last week, Cardinal Delly said that life in Iraq is a “Calvary.”
He recalled that 16 priests and two bishops have been kidnapped and later released after a ransom was paid.
Others, he lamented, “belong to a line of new martyrs that today pray for us from the heavens: the archbishop of Mosul, Faraj Rahho; Father Raghid Ganni; another two priests and another six young persons.”
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