A Message of H.B. Patriarch Cardinal Sako to the Chaldean Bishops and Priests in Iraq
His Beatitude Patriarch Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako addressed the following message to the Chaldean Bishops and Priests in Iraq while they are meeting in Ankawa 17-19 September 2018 urging them to look for “new lines” of a pastoral plan, especially for young people and families that suits their current circumstances and in light of the upcoming synod of youth in Rome 3-28 October 2018:
Dear Bishops and Priests,
May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ fill your hearts.
It is my pleasure to begin with greeting you individually, and to thank you for attending this meeting. I hope that each one of us will take the responsibility of enabling “this gathering” to come out with serious and useful suggestions that are appropriate for our current situation and reflect strongly on the teamwork and leadership required from us as “Shepherds” at this particular time.
I would like to emphasize the importance of this meeting, discussion and consultation on certain themes of our mission and our comprehensive pastoral work as bishops and priests during this difficult and “totally different” circumstances compared to the past.
Today, we can neither recite our liturgical celebration “robotically” nor use the “spoon feeding” mechanism to teach our people the principles of faith away from comprehensive words and life testimony.
Since the Gospel is a life project, and a message of hope, we “as custodians of faith” must be prepared to care seriously and integrally about the “continuity” of the Church teaching. We should faithfully update and present it, so as to be compatible with our tradition, reality and the education of this generation, taking into account the mentality, economic, social, political and psychological transformation. This way we will be able to “walk side by side” with our people, expressing our closeness, readiness to serve and love them in such harsh conditions.
The Church (represented by us, who are entrusted with communicating its’ message to people), must seek a new approach to accomplish this important mission, such as the use of social media. Similarly, Liturgy should be expressive, understandable and destined to become occasions of grace and “fountain of life” for faithful. Because this “rich liturgy” kept our faith along the history of this region, even during persecutions.
Today, the Church should be more aware of its’ inclusive role, by seeing, listening, analyzing, interacting, answering the questions of our people as well as undertaking various activities in order to serve and form them. Otherwise, in the absence of searching, suggesting and renewing, the Church would be rigid and helpless.
Therefore, it is the obligation of the Church (all of us through it) to take care of people affairs, including social justice, equality and peace.
The local Church (wherever is located geographically) must pay total attention to the “reality” of its’ people: their concerns, worries, fears and aspirations to face them with firm determination, deliberation, thoughtful and unhurried stances. I recall here what St. Paul the Apostle recommended in the letter to Galatians: “They asked nothing more than that we should remember to help the poor, as indeed I was anxious to do in any case” (2/10).