Wednesday 26 October 2016
His Beatitude Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako with his auxiliary Bishop Basileo Yado with some priests and faithful visited the liberated Christian towns of the Nineveh Plain.
They visited the towns of Bartella, Karmles, Qaraqosh, Teskof, Baqofa and Btnaya. The inhabitants of these totally Christians twons were been expelled by Daesh in 2014 and are still living in camps in Kurdistan.
He met with the generals of the army troops and federal police and the Peshmerga.
His Beatitude thanked them for their victories against Daesh, and wished more victory and the liberation of Mosul and other Iraqi areas. In turn, they appreciated this historic visit, which lifted their spirits and hope.
During this visit, we saw the great destruction in most of these towns by Daesh, who burned churches and desecrated them in breaking crosses, statues and writing phrases calling for hatred, but there are many homes that are. They also noticed the presence of long tunnels inside churches founded by the Islamic Jihadists .
In some towns, we could not enter because of the mines and His Beatitude appealed to lift the mines to allow people to visit their hometowns and see the status of their homes.
Through this visit, His Beatitude wanted to send a message to everybody that these towns are Christian towns and remain a Christian and all Christians did not migrate and they are determined to return. It is Our Holy Land. He wishes also to raise the morale of Christians to return, s increasing their hope and confidence in the future.
In every church H.B. said a prayer for the safety of the heroic fighters and the return of peace and stability in these regions. He also hoped that the bishops of these towns will periodically visit their hometowns to prove their existence and presence.
For this purpose, he stated to declare the year 2017 the year of peace in Iraq, in which we will organize ecumenical prayers and dialogues, workshops, and a variety of activities in order to promote a culture of peace and harmonious coexistence.