By Sarah Mac Donald - 31 July, 2015
Christians around the world are being asked to join a global prayer initiative on 7 August for peace and stability in Iraq.
Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of the Chaldean Catholic Church has published a prayer specially written to mark the first anniversary of ISIS’ overrunning of Christian villages of the Nineveh Plain in August 2014.
Speaking earlier this week, the Chaldean Patriarch suggested that a visit by Pope Francis to the people of Iraq would give them desperately needed encouragement and strength.
He told Vatican Radio that a pastoral visit by the Pope would give embattled Christians hope and the strength “to persevere and not to leave”.
“We need his presence among us, so that he can give us so much strength, so much hope, not only for Christians but for everyone,” Patriarch Sako said.
“The Pope is a symbol not only for Christians – he is an international, spiritual and moral authority and everyone awaits his presence among us, which can give us so much strength to persevere and not to leave.”
The Patriarch also said that the international community must find a way to defeat Islamic State militants which he said “is growing” in strength and influence to the point the group is behaving “like a real state”.
Displaced Iraqi Muslim families are currently being housed in tents in the desert near the city of Ramadi in very “critical conditions” Patriarch Sako said.
He described his visit by car to the refugees to bring them food and other relief supplies as “a sign of solidarity” to show them that as a Church they are reaching out to all Iraqis in need, regardless of their religion.
He told the refugees, “we are close to you, we understand your suffering”.
Patriarch Sako described the gratitude of the refugees who begged them “not to forget them.” He said their situation was “a tragedy” with their plight going largely unnoticed because of the nation’s conflicts.
Asked for his views on Iraq’s future, Patriarch Sako said he was personally “very worried” given the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and elsewhere although he said there are “some signs of hope.”
He said there was an urgent need for the Muslim nations in the region to resolve the sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites.