Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Catholic, Orthodox patriarchs visit Irbil to support displaced Iraqis
cns ^ | August 20, 2014 | Doreen Abi Raad

Posted on 08/21/2014 2:33:46 PM PDT by NYer

BEIRUT (CNS) -- A delegation of Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs visited Irbil, Iraq, to show their support and solidarity with the more than 100,000 Christians and minorities displaced in the country by the advance of Islamist militants.

Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, patriarch of the Maronite Catholics, said the Aug. 20 trip was "a first step in the implementation of the statement issued by the patriarchs," referring to a special summit Aug. 7 to address the crisis facing Christians in Iraq and Syria.

ebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, the patriarch of Maronite Catholics who headed a delegation of Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs to Iraq Aug. 20, blesses a baby in Irbil. (CNS/Courtesy Maronite Patriarchate)

"The first and essential clause in the statement is our support for Christians who have left their houses because of the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations," Cardinal Rai said.

Cardinal Rai left Beirut with Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan and Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II.

Upon their arrival in Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish region of Iraq, the prelates were joined by Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad and local officials, including Kurdistan's Regional Interior Minister Karim Sinjari and Irbil Governor Nawzad Hadi.

The patriarchs visited refugees and prayed with them at three churches in Irbil hosting refugees from the Ninevah Plain. The refugees fled after being told by the Islamic State militants to convert to Islam, pay the Islamic jizya tax, or be killed. Many were robbed of their possessions before being forced to flee.

"We want all the Christians, Muslims, Yezidis, Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds to stay in Iraq and not to leave because this is our homeland, this is our culture, and civilization and we do not want to part with it," Cardinal Rai told reporters. "The ones who want to help us must work to stop injustice, help us end injustice and help our people regain their rights. This is what we want from the ones who want to help."

Later, he told them: "We cannot stand idly by and watch as evil oppresses the people. We will carry our cause to the whole world."

Lebanon's National News Agency reported that the delegation received a promise from the Kurdish authorities that Christians will be protected "until the last drop of blood."

The patriarchs stressed that their priority is for the safe return of all refugees and for Christians and minorities to be able to remain in their homeland.

"We demand that the displaced be allowed to return to their land with dignity. We will not accept anything less than that," Cardinal Rai said.

In a news conference before leaving Iraq, the patriarchs expressed support for human rights, including the right of Christians to remain in their homes.

"We cannot tolerate the tragedy we have witnessed here today," said Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius. He urged U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to visit the regions to determine if the displaced Iraqis could continue to live this way.

Cardinal Rai said: "It is unacceptable to allow terrorist organizations to eliminate entire communities in the 21st century."

"Do not think of emigrating; safeguard your roots," the cardinal told Christians. "We are on your side and we will raise our voice to the international community to act against terrorism."

He called for "the international community to mobilize" to thwart the threat of the Islamic State and other terrorist groups."

Patriarch Sako said militias were not the solution.

"Self-defense is a holy right, but forming militias will ruin Iraq," Patriarch Sako said. "State security forces should defend the people."

Pope Francis has expressed concern about the Iraqi minorities and sent a special envoy, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, who skipped the papal visit to South Korea and arrived in Iraq Aug. 13.

During an Aug. 18 news conference aboard the papal plane, Pope Francis said his recent appeal to the U.N. to "take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now underway in Iraq" was one of a series of measures he had considered with Vatican officials, including his decision to send Cardinal Filoni to meet with the region's church and government officials and refugees.

The same day, Cardinal Filoni and Patriarch Sako appealed to the international community to help to liberate villages controlled by the Islamic State terrorists and to provide the displaced with international protection.

Vatican Radio also reported that Cardinal Filoni met in Baghdad Aug. 19 with Iraqi President Fouad Massoum and delivered a personal letter from Pope Francis. Vatican Radio reported the president said he would respond.

Cardinal Filoni was expected to arrive back in Rome Aug. 21.

- - -

Contributing to this story was Cindy Wooden in Vatican City.

- - -

Editors: A video to accompany this story can be found at

TOPICS: Catholic; Ministry/Outreach; Orthodox Christian; Religion & Culture

1 posted on 08/21/2014 2:33:46 PM PDT by NYer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Tax-chick; GregB; Berlin_Freeper; SumProVita; narses; bboop; SevenofNine; Ronaldus Magnus; tiki; ...

Catholic / Orthodox ping!

2 posted on 08/21/2014 2:34:19 PM PDT by NYer ("You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." James 4:14)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Ad Orientam; antonius; aposiopetic; arielguard; bad company; blinachka; bob808; Brad's Gramma; ...
Orthodox Ping!

Save Thy people, O Lord,
and bless Thine inheritance.
Grant victory to Thy Church over her enemies,
and protect Thy people by Thy Holy Cross!

3 posted on 08/21/2014 4:10:17 PM PDT by lightman (O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance, giving to Thy Church vict'ry o'er Her enemies.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: NYer


Prayer for Iraq

O God, who art the unsearchable abyss of peace,
the ineffable sea of love, the fountain of blessings
and the bestower of affection,
who sendest peace to those that receive it;

Open to us this day the sea of thy love
and water us with plenteous streams
from the riches of thy grace
and from the most sweet springs of thy kindness.

Make us children of quietness and heirs of peace,
enkindle in us the fire of thy love;
sow in us thy fear;
strengthen our weakness by thy power;
bind us closely to thee and to each other
in our firm and indissoluble bond of unity:

Syrian Clementine Liturgy (in: For all God’s people; p. 73)

The full text of Patriarch Sako’s prayer for peace follows:

The plight of our country
is deep and the suffering of Christians
is severe and frightening.
Therefore, we ask you Lord
to spare our lives, and to grant us patience,
and courage to continue our witness of Christian values
with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us
to live with each other without fear and anxiety,
and with dignity and joy.

Glory be to you forever.  Amen.

Litany for Iraq

For lasting peace in this ancient land – From you, O Lord.
For wisdom and compassion for all in authority – From you, O Lord.
For comfort for families separated or bereaved – From you, O Lord.
For the release of captives – From you, O Lord.
For safety and security for minority communities.
For refreshment for the weary and healing for the sick – From you, O Lord.
For continuing faithfulness of the ancient churches of this land – From you, O Lord.
For tenacity of spirit for small Christian groups – From you, O Lord.
For the mutual enrichment and support of those of different Christian traditions – From you, O Lord.

You, Lord of all, we confess;
You, Lord Jesus, we glorify;
For you are the life of our bodies
And you are the Saviour of our souls.

The response in the litany and this hymn both come from the Chaldean liturgy. The ancient hymn celebrates Christ the source of resurrection in all situations of death and deprivation. (in: With All God’s People, p. 21, 22)

From Anonymous:

Father God, Our Savior and King,

We come to You in despair over the evil being done to our Middle East Christian brothers and sisters. We ask that You would put Your hand of protection upon them and that You would sustain them as You did the Israelites in the desert. Lord, cause our brothers and sisters to cry out to You for help and show them the peace that only You can give in answer to their needs. In their darkest moments, Lord, keep them, strengthen them, and comfort them. When they despair that no one is coming to help them, Lord, reveal Your glory and restore their souls.

We ask you these things in the blessed name of Your precious son, Jesus Christ.


4 posted on 08/21/2014 7:09:38 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson