At the invitation of His Beatitude, the Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako a get-together event was held on Monday evening, May 30, 2016 to pray for peace in Iraq, Syria and the region, at the Virgin Mary Church in Baghdad to mark the end of the Marian month, the Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis and the upcoming holy month of Ramadan.
Prayers included: Psalms, hymns and group prayers performed by “Kokhy” choir of Baghdad. H.B. Patriarch Sako welcomed his guests and the crowd to this important event by a speech (see below) followed by speeches from Sayyed Alaa al-Moussawi, a representative of the head of the Shiite Endowment, and His Eminence Sheikh Dr. Yousif Al-Nasery, the Secretary General of the Shura clerics and Sayyed Ibrahim al-Jaberi, the Director of Mr. Moqtada al-Sadr Offices in Baghdad and the northern regions. H.B. received an apology from His Eminence Sheikh Dr. Abdul-Latif Al-Humaim, the Head of the Sunni Endowment, at the last minute due to other commitments. Dr. Ayad Allawi sent a telegram of solidarity to show his support.
All the speakers stressed the importance of reconciliation, peace, equality, and promoted the harmonious co-existence.
Christian clergy of different churches participated in this event in addition to Muslim (Shiites and Sunnis), representatives of the Mandaeans and Yazidis. Several Ambassadors, and members of the Iraqi Parliament also joined the large crowd of faithful in prayers.
Towards the end, a number of clerics put candles in front of the altar, in the hope that it enlighten a culture of tolerance, love, acceptance of others and peace to put an end to violence and terrorism.
H.B. the Patriarch invited all his guests to shake hands and exchange a greeting of peace.
The event was characterized by a substantial media coverage that included most of the TV channels and the press.
Pray Together for Peace
Speech of His Beatitude the Chaldean Patriarch Louis R. Sako
I would like to start with a very warm welcome to everyone who is praying with us this evening, where the essence of Virgin Mary diffuses the fragrance all over the Church. We are delighted to have you all here.
We look forward to having a heartfelt and sincere prayer for peace in our country and the region. On the example of the Virgin Mary who lived the grace and mercy of God deeply.
Celebrating the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary in these difficult circumstances is an invitation for every one of us to follow her example of faith, openness, love, service, pureness, patience, hope and confidence.
I would like also to highlight the importance of praying in the midst of such a critical situation and the suffering of our people in Iraq, Syria and the region. Since praying helps in:
a. Calming down the restless volcano of our inner struggles.
b. Changing the heart and mind of those who are living these daily events.
c. Granting us joy, humility as well as enabling us to assist and deal smoothly with others.
As you know, people who pray usually encounter and criticize themselves before encountering others. If we have this spirit of praying, “miracle may happen” we will enjoy then a real peace inside and around us
Since we are celebrating the Jubilee Year of Mercy, proclaimed by Pope Francis, and because Ramadan is around the corner, in which our fellow Muslims fast, pray, repent, and live “compassion and kindness” toward those who suffer. It is an opportunity to correct perceptions, relationships and choose the way that leads to peace, reconciliation and building of mutual trust.
As we are in charge of humanitarian and religious responsibilities at these tragic conditions, we are all called, in the presence of God, to move quickly and in high level of confidence to:
a. Unify efforts of spreading the culture of tolerance, love, peace and friendship.
b. Deepen the values of belonging to this multicultural nation.
c. Stay away from all forms of “fatal” extremism, especially that the heavenly laws of all religions plea to establish justice among people and deprive oppression and discrimination.
We have had enough of wars; the Iraqi people are tired of hearing about death, destruction, and displacement, on daily basis, all of which are against the divine will. God created human to live happily his life and yearn for peace, freedom, dignity and happy life.
In closing, I would say: “to have a better future we have to change our mentality and the way we educate people”
May God Bless all the joint effort to save Iraq as a country and its’ military, politics, economics and culture.