CHALDEAN PATRIARCH LOUIS SAKO RECOUNTS CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION BY ISIS
by Rodney Pelletier • ChurchMilitant.com • August 5, 2016
It has been two years since the Islamic State overtook Mosul and the Nineveh Plain — both centers of Catholicism in the war-torn country of Iraq — destroying ancient churches, tombs of saints, libraries and any vestiges of civilization.
Patriarch Sako went on a campaign to alert the world to the carnage happening in the cradle of civilization, but he believes his words fell on deaf ears. He has spoken out against outrages done to Christians at the hands of the present Iraqi government, namely the forced conversion of children.
Others have joined in Patriarch Sako’s efforts, especially Ignatius Joseph III Younan, Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church of Antioch, who lamented Thursday, “This present genocide is happening under the eyes of the whole world, and the global indifference is stunning!”
In November 2015, Patriarch Sako accused the West of betraying Syrian and Iraqi Christians. “We Christians are not able to live in this chaos that produces militias, armed gangs, terrorist groups and Islamic parties. But when we maintain a firm stand against these phenomena, then the West accuses us of being dictatorial.”
He expressed the difficulty in adopting democracy “because there is no real separation of religion from the state.” He continued, “Minorities beg to be represented in front of the Muslim majority, and they feel like immigrants in a foreign land. We Christians have been in these lands for thousands of years, long before Islam.”
In Friday’s letter Patriarch Sako commented,
[T]errorism has not been defeated yet; the conflicts are not over; violations of human rights are still growing at different levels; the efforts for national reconciliation came to a halt; and the promises of eradicating corruption, reforming, establishing a civil government, and fighting against unemployment, poverty, illiteracy and diseases, did not go beyond being promises only.
However, he shifts to a more proactive approach, making suggestions for a “post-ISIS situation” improving the situation in Iraq for Christians and foreveryone else.
He is asking all Iraqis to unite in solidarity and call on political and religious authorities to deny legitimacy to any organization that would seek to usurp the people’s rights, adding that it is a “mortal” sin to support preach, plan or fund terrorism.
“We are facing a serious ‘brain pollution,'” he remarked, “which is threatening the intellectual, religious and ethnic balance that have been in this region for centuries.”
He is suggesting a new culture based on “mutual acceptance, respect the humanity of human being and approval of commonly shared issues such as peace, stability, justice and equality.”
He notes that human values must first be renewed before society can change. He then asks that a new political system be put into place that represents everyone equally.
The patriarch finishes by appealing to Christian refugees who have fled Iraq. “Therefore, we advise our people not [to] be afraid and keep their faith up, for the God in Whom they trust and left their homes empty-handed, will bring them back to their land safe and sound and He will put an end to this misery.”
Read the source and comments: http://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/chaldean-patriarch-recounts-christian-persecution-at-the-hands-of-isis
“The situation is a complicated and we are hearing many contradictory stories. The only truth we do know is that the people here are suffering and dying.”
The words are those of Sister Anne-Françoise, a French religious of the Enclosed and Apostolic Discalced Carmelite Sisters of Aleppo, Syria. She spoke by telephone with international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need about the agony of Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city, where fighting between the Syrian government and rebel forces has greatly intensified in recent weeks.
The convent of these nuns is on the outskirts of Aleppo, an area seriously affected by the fighting. The nun reported: “When the Syrian army attempts to prevent the opposition and other groups from entering into the city, the bombing and shelling come really close to us. Thanks be to God, they haven’t hit us yet, but we are constantly hearing the shells pass over our heads.”
The Carmelite nuns, four of whom are Syrian and two French, have taken in a number of refugee families in a building adjoining their convent, while also supporting other families with the few resources at their disposal. “By now it is only the poorest of the people who are still left here in Aleppo. So many Christians have left the city during these years of war. We have no water, no electricity, and the fighting is continuing incessantly. Who could possibly come back in these conditions,” the sister asked.
Needless to say, the six nuns are afraid as well, but they are determined to stay close to the people. Sister Anne-Françoise said: “How can we abandon these people in their suffering? The witness of our presence is important for them. We draw strength and courage from prayer; this is our protection. The diplomatic solutions have not worked. We simply pray to the Lord that this war may stop.”
After years of fighting, and of an unceasing Christian exodus, Sister Anne-Françoise is fearful that more and more families will abandon Aleppo, a city that has been a symbol of Christianity in Syria. Since 2011—when the Syrian civil war began—a population of 160,000 Christians in the city had dwindled to barely 40,000.
“The Middle East, the land of Christ, now risks losing its Christians. That is unthinkable, and the situation is truly terrible. And even for those who leave, the crisis does not end. They find themselves uprooted from their own soil and sometimes even lose their spiritual roots,” the sister said.
The sisters’ appeal to the international community and to all Christians throughout the world is this: “Please take pity on these thousands of lives, torn apart by war. Please don’t forget us. We need your prayers and your practical help!”
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS); www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN) www.acnmalta.org (Malta)
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