Archbishop Warda Addresses Congress Participants

Iraqi Prelate Speaks on the Meaning of Suffering

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By Junno Arocho

DUBLIN, Ireland, JUNE 15, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Building on the day’s theme of “Communion in Suffering and Healing,” Archbishop Bashar Warda, the Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil in Iraq, delivered a catechesis to participants at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress.

Speaking on Suffering as a Means of Communion, the Iraqi archbishop focused on the various types of suffering that afflict people today, such as those engaging the body, the mind and the soul. “When I speak here about this subject, I have in mind the suffering of persecuted or exploited communities, or the personal suffering of sick, poor and old people,” he said.

“Suffering is always degenerating and devastating the human dimension in people. But, when we speak about ‘human suffering,’ then always the suffering of Our Lord Jesus Christ is implicated,” he said. “His broken body is, and remains present in the mystery of the broken bread, as a source from which flows love, creating bonds of community.”

Archbishop Warda also spoke on the Eucharistic dimension of suffering in the Gospel, saying that the Eucharist, and the Church itself is built upon the cross of Christ. “Even hanging on the cross, he tries to create communion: this is your son and she is your mother,” he said.

After his address, Archbishop Warda spoke with ZENIT on the congress’ theme and the current situation of suffering and persecution in his native Iraq.

ZENIT: How do you feel about this Eucharistic Congress?

Archbishop Warda: The congress really is lifting up the spirit. There are lots of people around, lots of people participating in the various activities. The congress also makes so many people aware of the richness of the Catholic Church and the oldest traditions of the Church all over the world, speaking in one Spirit as we were founded by Jesus Christ. The love of the Father has united us here. I’m quite confident that the people are understanding that.

When you speak of suffering, you could speak about suffering, and you could get people from all areas to understand and that is the richness of the Catholic Church.

ZENIT: Why is the theme of suffering important to address here?

Archbishop Warda: I haven’t asked the organizers but putting this congress into context, we see that there is a lot of suffering around the world now. I do believe that the only way to pray is to pray as Jesus prayed. Also to be [united] in that kind of suffering we might, although we don’t have all the explanations, listen to each other.

And the same feeling that we all have is shared by all the bishops and priests, who open their offices, for example, to receive people. And the people come in and speak about their feelings, their anxieties, their fears and they leave the room.

So you wonder, “Okay, what have they offered to them or what do you think they offered to them?” Nothing but [mercy]. Which is a great help. So I think that the theme of suffering is very important. But here we have a message: That this suffering is the way where God is awaiting us.

ZENIT: What is the situation of the Church in Iraq?

Archbishop Warda: As you may know, our people have a reputation for suffering and persecution. Unfortunately, the majority of the Christians left the country, which meant that we are a very minimal minority. But this community is full of hope that even being a minority, it has some strength that’s inside every Christian, that in this violence, this atmosphere that we live in, we could focus on the hope that comes from our Christian belief.

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