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الرئيسية / English / Patriarch Sako’s Sermon at the Memorial Mass on the 1st Anniversary of Pope Francis’ Visit to Iraq

Patriarch Sako’s Sermon at the Memorial Mass on the 1st Anniversary of Pope Francis’ Visit to Iraq

Patriarch Sako’s Sermon at the Memorial Mass on the 1st Anniversary of Pope Francis’ Visit to Iraq

Pope Francis’ historic visit was a blessing to all Iraqis. it has charged Iraqis with enough support and hope to achieve their desire in having a life of solidarity, compassion and dignity.

During our 1st visit to Rome this year as the heads and representatives of Iraqi Churches, we intended to thank His Holiness for taking the time to visit our beloved country. Generously, he invited us to his headquarters in the Vatican on Monday, the 28th of February 2022. In the meeting, we expressed our appreciation for his precious visit to Iraq as a dove of peace, a messenger of fraternity and love. He said emotionally “I won’t forget my visit to Iraq… I am holding your country in my heart”.

My question is, do we Iraqis, carry Iraq in our hearts and minds as the Pope is doing? Is Iraq an “act” of identity and belonging?

A year has passed since the visit, and the resonance of special words like, fraternity, diversity, peace, harmony, let the weapons be silenced, the sweetness of coexistence, respect, cooperation and solidarity still rings in our memory. These are respectable ethical, national and religious “messages” that should be present and invested in our daily life.

The Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhemi has dedicated the 6th of March as an Annual National Tolerance and Coexistence Day, which would be an opportunity for working groups to make it a human, national and religious “daily feelings” that touches our souls and affects them the most. Keeping in mind that neither life nor religion is a tool for violence, killing and robbery, but rather a tool for spreading human and spiritual values including respect for the dignity and “human” rights of everyone as a brother and a citizen.

Unfortunately, after 19 years, we are still facing the chaos of the “state absence”, because everything relies on the political class and their interests. Therefore, and to find the right solutions for such situation, I suggest that the best investment of the visit is to focus on the following themes:

  1. Since the diversity of traditions, cultural heritage, languages and religions in Iraq represents a fountain for dialogue and unity among its components, it should be recognized, accepted, protected and handed over to future generations.
  2. It is important to set up home and school education on human values that should be common for all citizens, in addition to the religious message of tolerance, respect, love and cooperation, so as to motivate young people to be committed for doing goodness, practice charity, justice and freedom.
  3. The need for dialogue and meeting opportunities between different cultural and religious traditions in order to strengthen fraternity bonds; give priority to the peace logic; and adopt the language of dialogue to find integrated solutions for avoiding catastrophic problems.
  4. Establish a “Building Capacity” Center, focusing on tolerance, reconciliation and peace in order to overcome problems and strengthen partnership, and prepare local leaders to resolve conflicts and domestic violence as well as interconnecting with such cases.

We Christians are part of this noble national project. We must get rid of dependence, complaints and immigration mentality, and assume our responsibility by cooperating with our citizens in consolidating relations and collaborate for the good of our citizens and overall country.

During the meeting, Pope Frances stated: “We mustn’t abandon any available mean for making Christians feel that Iraq is their homeland, and that they are citizens with “full rights”, called to contribute to the land where they lived always”

On the 1st anniversary of this historic visit, I would like to join Pope Francis in calling upon all Churches to continue walking together on the fraternity path towards unity, as the disciples of Jesus Christ. Hence, our impact will be greater by providing a positive image through our unity, faith testimony and morals.

Pope Francis concluded with: I encourage you to continue on this path, in order that your steps lead ultimately to full unity, which is the most important thing, through concrete initiatives; continuous dialogue; and fraternal love. Furthermore, Christians might shine as a prophetic sign of unity in the midst of a nation who suffered a lot from splits and conflicts”.

In this mass, let us pray for our country and the speedy formation of a national government, capable of reviving the country and providing services. We also pray for peace in the world, especially for the end of the war between Russia and Ukraine that may “affect” peace in the whole world. It is unfortunate that this war is a political suicide while both sides could have get together in a civilized dialogue to solve their problems.

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