Father Albert Hisham – The Chaldean Patriarchate Media Administrator: His Beatitude Patriarch Mar Louis Raphael Sako accompanied by His Excellency the Nuncio, His Excellency the Auxiliary Bishop and their Excellency the new Bishops, had visited this afternoon, Friday 31 January 2014, Honorable Sheikh Dr. Rafi Taha Al-Rifai, the Grand Mufti of Iraq at his residence in Sulaymaniyah for a goodwill visit to deepen brotherly relations and expand the base of action in achieving the peace in Iraq.
Patriarch Sako praised the high rank that the Honorable Sheikh occupy and the big role he plays, and His Beatitude explained the past and present suffering of Christians, highlighting the “our role as clergy in the sacrifice, appeasement, dialogue, sitting together and understanding together, and do good charity recommended by both Christian and Muslim religion, because violence does not solve things but lead to violence”, and he added, “The cleric does not bear weapon against anyone rather he is a dove of peace”. Also, Patriarch Sako expressed his grieve over the migration of Christians and especially “when seeing the refugee camp between Kirkuk and Arbil”, and all this is because of material gains for specific sectors far from humanitarian objectives.
His Beatitude Patriarch Sako requested “our Muslim brothers, Sunni and Shiites, to read the situation correctly and not consider conflict”, and asked Honorable Sheikh Al-Rifai to “carry the burden of the little Christian component by calling for coexistence and harmony”.
Dr. Rafi Al-Rifai thanked Patriarch Sako and the accompanied Bishops for their visit, and expressed at the beginning of his speech the value of human being in all religions where he is the aim of all. Sheikh Al-Rifai described his relationship with Christians as “good especially with Christian writers and poets”, adding, “We never knew of any differences between us, we lived together sharing everything, but there is a strange agenda of different directions that urges this distinction”. His Honorable Sheikh denounced the killings for any reason and called to end the bloodshed and to defend the rights and maintaining national cohesion.
At the end of the meeting, Patriarch Sako thanked Honorable Sheikh Al-Rifai on welcoming and hosting him, and thanked God that there are still flaring signs in Iraq with wishes for all to live in peace.
The meeting was attended by His Excellency Nuncio Giorgio Lingua, Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni, Bishop Yousif Thomas, Archbishop of Kirkuk Diocese, Bishop Habib Al-Nofaly, Archbishop of Basra Diocese, Auxiliary Bishop Saad Sirop, Mr. Khaled Albert, President of Endowment in Kurdistan, and Father Albert Hisham, Chaldean Patriarchate Media Administrator.
After the Holy Mass, on the same evening, Mullah Mustafa Hussein, Previous Director of the Sunni Endowment in Kirkuk, visited His Beatitude Patriarch Sako, and both sides stressed the importance of coexistence and defending the rights of the other in order to achieve peace in the community.