Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga Sends Open Letter to Iraqi Church Leaders

«The forced imposition of the sign N on the doors of Christian homes brings to mind another atrocity that occurred during the last century and that led to terrible suffering and death of millions of people.»

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Caritas Internationalis president Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has sent an open letter to Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako of Babylon and Msgr. Shlemon Warduni, President of Caritas Iraq on the crisis in their country.

Here below is the full text of the letter, sent by email to the two Church leaders:


Vatican City, 15 August 2014

Your Beatitude, Patriarch Louis Raphael SAKO, Patriarch of Babylon

Your Excellency, Bishop Shlemon WARDUNI, President of Caritas Iraq

My dear brothers in Our Lord Jesus Christ,

On behalf of the Caritas Internationalis Confederation I send you fraternal greetings and assure of my deep concern for your safety and wellbeing and, most especially of my prayers for you and all the people of Iraq.

It is with great sadness, that, once again, we are forced to witness destructive violence in the region and, in particular in your beloved country of Iraq. It is with aching hearts that we observe the massive displacement of 1.2 million people, many of them civilians trying to escape appalling atrocities in the hope of saving their own lives and those of their families.

With great dismay we see images of people who literally have been robbed of every last possession and now have no means to buy food or attend to their basic needs. We know that many of them have lost their lives while in flight, as recently happened with 40 children who died from lack of water.

Despite advances in recognizing the rights of minorities within the international community, the atrocities in your country concern these very same groups: Christians, Yazidis, Kurds, Shabaks, Madaeans, and others.

When will our global human family begin to learn from history? The forced imposition of the sign “N” on the doors of Christian homes brings to mind another atrocity that occurred during the last century and that led to terrible suffering and death of millions of people. As our Holy Father Pope Francis says: “Violence is never defeated by violence. Violence is conquered by peace.»[1]

How can members of the same family inflict such atrocities on their own people in the name of religion? Or is it rather the manipulation of ruthless greed for power that inflicts such ruthless violence on so many innocent people?

Caritas Internationalis, which witnesses, through its name and every action, to “love across the nations,” calls for one human family in which no one should die of hunger or thirst, nor lose their lives as a result of hatred and violent aggression. We work to advance a human family that lives together in peace and harmony, in charity and justice.

We call upon the militants of the Islamic State to cease inflicting atrocities on their brothers and sisters and to work towards building peaceful societies, where all human persons, whether in minority or majority communities can live together in peace and where everyone can flourish.

We share a deep concern that this most recent surge of violence may push back advancements in the Christian – Muslim dialogue and destroy the peaceful coexistence and conviviality that is enjoyed by many Muslims and Christians in all parts of the world, but most especially in the Middle East.

My Brothers in Episcopal Ministry, I congratulate you and all people of good will in your country for your courage and strong and loving witness as you stand firmly against these crimes against humanity and as you defend the right to life for all people at all stages from conception to natural death. All women and men engaged in the Caritas Confederation accompany you so that together we can raise a “continuous prayer to ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of peace”[2], most especially in this land of our Father Abraham, the Patriarch whose memory is sacred to all Jewish, Christian, and Muslim people, since he passed on to us our love and faith in the one God, the Creator of the Universe and Author of life.

We send our love, support and solidarity all those courageous aid workers of Caritas, of religious congregations and other organizations who provide practical help in local communities to alleviate the suffering, giving food and shelter or healing trauma. You are working humbly and tirelessly in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ and in fulfilment of His Gospel mandate, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Finally, we in Caritas join our voices to yours as we advocate with religious and civil leaders, at local, national, regional, and global levels, to ensure that the safety of affected people concerned is put at the forefront, that the rule of law is recognized and enforced, and that no more weapons reach those committing such crimes against human life and dignity. Let us remain committed to promote and support a culture of peaceful dialogue that strives to establish solidarity and shared responsibility among all peoples in all nations.

May God continue to bless our every action taken in His name and bring them to fulfilment.

Yours in Christ

+Oscar Andrés Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga S.D.B.

President, Caritas Internationalis

[1] Pope Francis, Angelus Message, Vatican City, 20 July 2014.

[2] Statement of Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, regarding the situation of Christians in Iraq, Vatican Press Office, 07 August 2014.

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