Letter from H.B. Patriarch Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako to Iraqis
Dear Sisters and Brothers
I came back to Iraq full of joy, carrying all kinds of beautiful feelings, because, I was in the presence of His Holiness Pope Francis during the consistory ceremony, and at the meeting of Eastern Patriarchs with him in Bari. In both occasions, His Holiness granted me an honour of conveying his greetings to all Iraqis and his solidarity with them ensuring his ongoing prayers for peace, stability and prosperity.
Glory be to God for His abundant blessings, and His care for all of us, and many thanks to His Holiness Pope Francis for nominating an “Iraqi citizen” to be a Cardinal and to bear such a distinct mission.
To me, this mission is to serve my devastated country and to serve everyone without exception, same as Pope Francis is doing world-wide. I Realize that being a Cardinal means assuming more responsibilities towards the Universal Church. At the same time, it gives me support, momentum and a wider space for serving, so that I can join all those with good will to achieve the common goals that we are looking for.
The Cardinal’s red dress and red hat symbolize martyrdom, particularly in our country, that has been “tested” more than once. It definitely symbolizes the blood of so many martyrs that had been shed on this land from all the components of Iraqi society. However, the red is also a symbol of love, which should inflame the heart of the person who wears it, so that he offers his life for those who he loves unconditionally.
On this occasion, I promise all Iraqis, same as I did, five years ago, when I was elected as a Patriarch, to be honest and direct; a brother and servant to everyone; do my best, relying on God’s blessing and cooperating with all the good people, in order to strengthen unity and partnership among Iraqis; promote harmonic coexistence; encourage the culture of dialogue and understanding; and find a better environment based on love, justice, equality, freedom, dignity and peace. Knowing that we have no future without peace and living together.
Since religion and violence are incompatible, I would like to call upon Muslim, Christian and other religious authorities to be national symbols, contributing to achieve reconciliation, peace and stability by defeating extremism and violence.
Similarly, I urge all Iraqi politicians to reconcile and “turn off the page” in order to stop this “acting war” on our land, which has destroyed “human being” and “stone”. We must preserve our unity, as the country cannot be built by sectarianism and personal interest, but rather on equal and complete citizenship. Therefore, I call all partners to speed up the process of forming a strong Government, based on the Iraqi constitution. A Government that is capable of developing a general strategy that eradicate corruption and improve services. Otherwise, the delay will deteriorate the related institutes that reflect negatively on the security, economy and social services.
My advice to the protestors, is to focus on their rights away from violence and its consequences. At the same time, it is the Government responsibility to protect them and respond to their needs.
We continue to pray that the signs of hope will overcome our worries and fears in such difficult situation and we remain proud of our beloved country.
In conclusion, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all those who congratulated and welcomed me.
Long live Iraq