Christmas Hope Dawns in Iraq

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BAGHDAD, DEC. 24, 2008 ( Iraqi bishops are welcoming signs of friendship extended to Christians of their country this Christmas.

The prelates said gestures from authorities and religious leaders are a sign of greater efforts to end the anti-Christian discrimination in the nation. They told AsiaNews that the gestures are “small signs of hope” that things can change for the Christian community.

For example, last Saturday, an Iraqi civil leader in Baghdad organized a public Christmas party to show support for Christians. The event was complete with a Christmas tree, Santa Claus, figures of Mary and the Child Jesus, and an Iraqi flag.

The party was presented as recognition for those who have been extraordinary in interreligious dialogue, and as a message to the thousands of Christians who have emigrated that they are wanted back home.

Along the same lines, Bishop Rabban Al Qas of Amadiya reported that the Kurdish television station of his area had announced that Christmas Mass would be transmitted directly.

And Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk affirmed that he had received visits from delegations of various groups — including Arabs and Kurds — to “congratulate the Christian community for Christmas.”

“Even among so much persecution,” he said, “we can fee a climate of greater solidarity.”

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