VATICAN CITY, APRIL 30, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Christian patriarchs and bishops of Iraq have asked that their country’s future Constitution recognize fundamental human rights, particularly religious liberty.
In a signed statement published today by the Vatican press office, the religious leaders also called for dialogue between Christians and Muslims.
“When Christianity and Islam met, their respective ‘holy ones’ began the two religions in respectful and reciprocal coexistence,” the statement affirms.
“By virtue of our original right of belonging to the most ancient peoples of this land, we claim for ourselves and for all those who live in it today, whether a majority or minority, united by a long history of coexistence, the full right to live in a state of law, in peace, freedom, justice and equality, according to the Human Rights Charter,” the document continues.
Iraqi Christians — Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syrians, Armenians, Greeks, and Latins — ask that a future Constitution:
— recognize religious, cultural, social and political rights;
— envision a legal statute in which each person will be considered according to his capacities, without discrimination, so that each may have the right to actively participate in the government and the service of the country;
— consider Christians as Iraqi citizens with full rights; and
— guarantee the right to “profess our faith according to our ancient traditions and our religious law, the right to educate our children according to Christian principles, the right to freely assemble, to build our places of worship, and our cultural and social centers according to our needs.”
The religious leaders’ appeal is made “before everyone, the Iraqi people, rich in ethnicities and religions, the political and religious authorities, as well as to everyone who has the good of the country at heart, and to the leaders of the international community.”
Iraq’s 24 million includes 670,000 Christians, three-quarters of whom are Catholic, mostly of the Chaldean rite.