The Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin is visiting Iraq from December 24-28, on the occasion of the celebrations for the Solemnity of Christmas. He is meeting with representatives of the Oriental Churches and exponents of the Government.
Cardinal Parolin concelebrated Mass on Christmas Eve together with His Beatitude Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, in the Chaldean Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Baghdad. Earlier Cardinal Parolin visited the Syro-Catholic Church of Our Lady of Salvation, where he also attended the rite of the lighting of the fire, which symbolizes the birth of Jesus. The celebrations for the Solemnity of the Lord’s Birth ended with Holy Mass in the Catholic Cathedral of Baghdad.
Here is a translation of the Christmas Message for Iraq, given by H.E. Cardinal Parolin, in the course of the meeting with the Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahd and exponents of the Government in the Presidential Palace.
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Christmas Message for Iraq
I greet you all with great affection, also in the name of the Holy Father Francis who asked me to bring his greetings to the beloved Iraqi people, and I thank God, who gives me the joy of visiting your country, cradle of civilization, so rich in biblical references and history, land of the Patriarch Abraham, where the history of Salvation began. In these days I will celebrate with Christians the festivity of the birth of the Lord Jesus. Manifested at Christmas are the goodness and humanity of God our Saviour (Cf. Timothy 2:11). The proclamation became reality, the promises are fulfilled: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
The incarnate Son of God gives us joy and peace, responding to the most intimate and profound expectations of every human heart. It is God alone who can give non-ephemeral peace and joy, reinforcing them and consolidating them with law and justice!
Pope Francis reminds us that “The power of this Child, Son of God and of Mary, is not the power of this world, based on force and wealth. It is the power of love. It is the power that will regenerate life, that forgives faults, reconciles enemies, <and> transforms evil into good. It is the power of God (. . .). It is the power of service, which establishes in the world the Kingdom of God, Kingdom of justice and peace” (Urbi et Orbi Message of Christmas 2016).
Christmas is a feast for all and its message is addressed to every man of good will. As individuals and as communities, we Christians and Muslims are called to illuminate the darkness of fear and of non-sense, of irresponsibility and hatred with words and acts of light, scattering with full hands seeds of peace, of truth, of justice, of freedom and of love. Let us live in a spirit of humility and of respect of the other, accepting people with their diversity, not using such differences to put ourselves against each other, but discovering in them a possibility of mutual enrichment, always seeking the common good. What unites and links us to one another is greater than what separates us. The joy and peace of Christmas are not a privilege to hold tightly for each one of us, but they are a gift to share with others and to live as a responsibility in the building of a future of fraternity and concord. May the God of peace, who made Himself our brother, our companion on the road, give joy and peace for a better future to all the inhabitants of beloved Iraq![Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]