Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako — together with all the Chaldean, Syrian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic and Armenian Bishops in northern Iraq — have launched an urgent appeal, calling for concrete action by the Iraqi government and an end to the “catastrophe” devastating their nation.
In response to inaction on the part of the war-torn nation’s politicians, the Church leaders made this appeal to the Iraqi PM and government at the end of a meeting on Tuesday July 22 held in Ankawa (suburb of Erbil), reported Fides Tuesday.
The meeting was aimed at addressing the serious events recorded in the region in recent weeks, starting with the expulsion of Christians and Shiites from the city of Mosul decreed by the militiamen of the self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate.
The prelates’ appeal calls on the government to ensure “necessary protection” for Christians and other minorities in the country and provide “financial support to displaced people who have lost everything.”
Other provisions it demands are that the Iraqi national government pay the wages of state employees “immediately” and compensate those who have suffered material losses. It adds that the government must ensure continuity of housing, social services, and educational provisions for families who may have to spend a long time away from their homes.
In addition, it includes an invitation from the Iraqi Bishops to invite “people of conscience in Iraq and around the world” to put pressure on militants to put a stop to “the destruction of churches and monasteries, manuscripts, relics and all the Christian heritage, priceless Iraqi and international heritage.”
“What was said with regards to an agreement between the militants and the clergy is false”, it continues, reiterating that “a crime is a crime, and it cannot be denied or justified. We expect concrete actions to assure our people, not just press releases of denunciation and condemnation.”
In this respect, the bishops express an eloquent appreciation for the role played by the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, appreciating its readiness to “accommodate the displaced families, to embrace them and to help them.”
Also in the message, the leaders of the Churches in northern Iraq propose the creation of a joint committee between the regional government and the representatives of our people in order “to fulfill the suffering of refugee families and improve their conditions.”
The appeal ends with a supplication to the Almighty God so that catastrophe is averted and “security, peace and stability is re-established throughout Iraq.” (D.C.L.)