"La situazione sta peggiorando. Gridate con noi che i diritti umani sono calpestati da persone che parlano in nome di Dio ma che non sanno nulla di Lui che è Amore, mentre loro agiscono spinti dal rancore e dall'odio.
Gridate: Oh! Signore, abbi misericordia dell'Uomo."

Mons. Shleimun Warduni
Baghdad, 19 luglio 2014

21 dicembre 2018

Buon Natale e Buon Anno Nuovo

Edo Bri'cho o Rish d'Shato Brich'to

عيد ميلاد سعيد وسنة ميلادية مباركة

Happy Christmas and Happy New Year

Feliz Navidad y Feliz Año Nuevo

Feliz Natal e Feliz Ano Novo

Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année

Fröhliche Weihnachten und Gutes Neues Jahr

God Jul och Gott Nytt År

By Baghdadhope*

20 dicembre 2018

Due sacerdoti per la chiesa caldea negli USA

By Baghdadhope*
Foto Patriarcato Caldeo. Da sinistra Padre Simon Esshaki,
Padre Daniel Shaba e padre Peter Patros
Si è svolta ieri nella cattedrale cattolica caldea di San Pietro a El Cajon, California, la cerimonia per l'ordinazione di due nuovi sacerdoti: Daniel Shaba (1994) e Peter Patros. (1994)
A celebrare la funzione il vescovo dell'Eparchia di San Pietro (USA ovest) Mons. Emmanuel Hana Shaleta. Tra i partecipanti anche il vescovo emerito dell'Eparchia, Mons. Sarhad Y. Jammo.   Entrambi i sacerdoti erano stati ordinati diaconi lo scorso 13 luglio. 
A parte le date di nascita nessuna altra informazione biografica sui due neo-sacerdoti è stata data dal sito del patriarcato caldeo. 

USAID to partner with Hungary to help Middle East Christians

By Crux
Christopher White

One week after President Donald Trump signed into law a new bill committing aid to genocide victims in Iraq and Syria, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced it has signed an agreement with the Government of Hungary to coordinate relief to Middle Eastern communities devastated by ISIS.
The Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act was signed into law on December 11 after years of lobbying by faith-based groups for greater U.S. support for the region.

The new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed by USAID Acting Deputy Administrator David Moore and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Levente Magyar of the Secretariat for the Aid of Persecuted Christians of the Government of Hungary, was signed on Tuesday.
In a statement, USAID said “The MOU with Hungary is part of USAID’s continuing effort to expand its partnerships to help endangered, displaced, and persecuted religious and ethnic minorities return home and restore their communities across the Middle East, particularly in parts of Northern Iraq liberated from the tyranny of ISIS.”
“The MOU is intended to increase cooperation through sharing knowledge, experience, and resources to develop projects in fields that include private-sector growth, housing, service-delivery, conflict-mitigation, religious freedom and other human rights,” it continued.
This week’s MOU follows another agreement signed between USAID and the Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest fraternal organization that has long been involved in helping rebuild Iraq. Following the rise of ISIS, the number of Christians in Iraq is now below 200,000, down from 1.4 million in 2002 and 500,000 in 2013.
(The Knights of Columbus are a principal sponsor of Crux.)
“USAID looks forward to working with the Government of Hungary to help advance religious freedom and pluralism,” the statement concluded.

Eamon Martin: 'With a lump in my throat I wished him a happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year'

By The Irish News
Archbishop Eamon Martin 

ONE month ago, on 'Red Wednesday', the church buildings in Armagh were lit up in red as we gathered in solidarity with Christians and other minorities who are persecuted for their religious beliefs.
Their suffering often goes unnoticed - most of us go on about our Christmas shopping and preparations unaware of the injustice and discrimination which affects many of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world.
Last week, I travelled to northern Iraq with Caoimhe de Barra and Sean Farrell of Trócaire to meet families who in 2014 were terrorised by Isis from their homes in Mosul and the Nineveh plain.
Thankfully some of them have been able to return to their homes and villages, but others are still uncertain and afraid to do so, deterred not least by the presence of unexploded landmines.
In one town, Batnaya, the scale of destruction brought tears to my eyes.
Family homes are burned and looted, shops and businesses lie ruined; church and convent buildings have been destroyed and daubed with hateful graffiti.
Even the town's graveyard is desecrated - crosses and gravestones smashed to pieces.
But the human spirit is strong, made even stronger by faith and by an outpouring of human compassion and charity.
In nearby Telescof I met Fr Salar Boudagh and members of his parish council. When we arrived they were putting up the Christmas tree and crib in the church compound.
I thought of those words from Isaiah which we hear at this time of the year: "The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light."
Sadly, despite reconstruction and the help of foreign aid, their numbers - and those of other minorities like the Yazidi Muslims - are in steep decline since the fall of Saddam Hussein and the rise of al-Qaida.
In Erbil in northern Iraq, we met with Archbishop Bashar Warda, a Redemptorist who learned English in Dundalk.
Their immediate response to the crisis was to set up refugee camps on the church grounds to provide shelter, food and clothing for the displaced families.
With the help of Trócaire and other agencies he opened a healthcare clinic and provided school places.
He maintains that long-term dignity can only be restored by rebuilding livelihoods and increasing job opportunities.
His people are highly skilled but they are naturally nervous about investing in anything beyond simple survival.
Christmas reminds them of the sadness of family separation, but it also brings a glimmer of joy and hope for new beginnings.
At the parish centre the children's choir was arriving to learn Christmas carols, and at the new Catholic University of Erbil young people spoke to us about their vision and dreams for the future.
At the seminary 14 young men are studying for the priesthood. They have no illusions about the challenging vocation to which God is calling them.
Priests in Iraq have to be true shepherds for their people - not only spiritual and community leaders, but also courageous peace-builders and reconcilers.
We spoke about Fr Ragheed Ganni, a former student of the Irish College in Rome, who was martyred after celebrating Mass in Mosul in 2007.
Fr Ragheed's attackers shouted as they killed him: "Why are you still here? We told you to close the church."
The Christian communities in the plains of Nineveh are among the earliest in the world, going back to the time of the apostles Thomas and Thaddaeus in the first century.
They still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. They do not wish to close their churches and leave their ancient homelands.
Theirs is a story of hope, triumphing over adversity. One elderly man told me he would be talking to his grandchildren - in Chicago and Brisbane - via Skype on Christmas Day.
"No doubt they will ask me to come and join them," he says. "But I'm not leaving. This is where we are from and our people before us. I will die here and be buried with my family. How can we leave now?"
With a lump in my throat I wished him, and his family, a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Iraq Pulse US genocide law triggers mixed feelings among Iraqis

By Al Monitor
Saad Salloum

A new US law designed to protect religious minorities and punish the Islamic State for its atrocities is getting a mixed reception from Iraqis, who are uncertain about how it will be applied on the ground.
President Donald Trump signed the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act into law Dec. 11. The law instructs the federal government to prioritize assistance for religious and ethnic minorities that have been targeted for "genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes." It also makes available financial and technical assistance to nongovernmental organizations and other entities in Iraq to help conduct criminal investigations, develop local investigative skills and collect evidence.
Murad Ismael, the executive director of the Yazidi rights group Yazda, praised the Trump administration’s support for religious minorities as an “excellent principle.”
“The Yazidi community is pleased by how hope has traveled from the shores of the US to a small persecuted minority such as the Yazidis, who suffered harshly at the hands of ISIS [the Islamic State],” he told Al-Monitor.
Ismael, who is based in Texas, stood by President Trump as he signed the bill earlier this month. He said Yazda remains committed to restoring normal life and hope for Yazidis and all minorities four years after the genocide.
Likewise, Kamel Zumaya, the vice president of external relations at the pan-Christian Shlomo Organization for Documentation, hailed the passing of the law as the culmination of collective efforts by groups like the US-based Knights of Columbus, In Defense of Christians and the International Association of Genocide Scholars. He said Iraqis also played a key role.
“There have been efforts by high-profile Iraqi figures,” Zumaya told Al-Monitor. “People such as Bashar Warda, the archbishop of the Chaldean Church in Erbil, as well as political institutions representing Iraq’s Christians and human rights defenders who played a significant role in highlighting the suffering of the victims of the genocide, both on a local and international level.”
Zumaya stressed that the federal government in Baghdad and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government should both now enact legislation to bring justice to the victims and help displaced people return to their hometowns.
Other groups, however, bristled at the new law’s focus on Yazidis and Christians. The act specifically highlights declarations by former secretaries of state John Kerry and Rex Tillerson that the Islamic State committed genocide against Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Muslims, and calls for special attention to groups “whom the Secretary of State has determined ISIS has committed genocide.”
US-based Mandaean activist Nazar al-Haidar, for example, told Al-Monitor that his gnostic community is not explicitly covered by the law.
“Ninety percent of the Mandaean minorities have fled Iraq because of the same dangers and threats that haunted the Christians and Yazidis,” said Haidar, who serves as the deputy director of the Council of Iraqi Minorities. “Christians, Yazidis and Mandaeans were all the same to [the Islamic State]. Those three minorities were simply firewood kindling the Sunni-Shiite conflict.”
Haidar added that the lack of international lobbies representing Mandaeans is not a reason to exclude them from the Iraqi cultural landscape. He expressed hope that US policymakers will take his community into account, considering that only 60,000 Mandaeans remain scattered across 20 countries worldwide, with 10% of them living in Iraq.
Others have expressed concerns about the law’s compatibility with UN policies addressing the challenges of Iraq’s religious minorities in light of President Trump’s unilateral policies. For example, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution September 2017 calling for the formation of an investigative team to support local efforts to hold the Islamic State to account by collecting and storing evidence of its crimes.
“It is imperative that this bill, as well as the projects related to and resulting from it, are not made a part of the international, regional, and local conflicts,” said Ali al-Bayati, a member of the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights. “Otherwise, minorities will be, yet again, a victim of the international power struggle in the region, especially since the current US stance is to move away from the UN and take individual steps and decisions. This will not be in the best interests of countries and nations that are dealing with international and regional conflict, such as Iraq.”
The concern that minorities will once again become unwitting pawns in a multinational struggle for influence reflects the Iraqi government's inability to meet the needs of Iraqi minorities — the very reason representatives of those groups sought US help in the first place.

Saad Salloum is an Iraqi academic and journalist specializing in Iraqi minorities and human rights. He heads the research department in the College of Political Sciences of Mustansiriya University and is one of the founding members of the Iraqi Council for Interfaith Dialogue. His publications focus on Iraqi minorities and include the books "Minorities in Iraq" (2013), "Christians in Iraq" (2014) and "Policies and Ethnic Groups in Iraq" (2014).

19 dicembre 2018

The New Threat to Iraq's Christians

By Real Clear Politics
Benedict Kiely

In March of 2017, with the battle for control of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, raging just miles away, I was driven into the town of Karamles, recently liberated from ISIS control. Together with a journalist friend, the parish priest of the town and an American adviser to the Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil, we walked among the ruined buildings surveying the results of ISIS occupation, which included a burnt church.
Virtually none of the former inhabitants had yet returned. There was nothing in the way of functioning infrastructure -- no water or electricity -- and many of the buildings were still booby-trapped with IEDs. The parish priest’s own house, intact because it had been used as an ISIS base, also had a bomb left inside it, which was discovered and disarmed when he returned.
Before ISIS, Karamles had some 10,000 residents, most of them Christians. Father Thabet Habib, the enthusiastic pastor, was determined that they should return and that the town would rebuild and thrive. As we left, the U.S. adviser told me to turn and look at the large metal structure that formed an official entrance to the town. Three flags flew from it. One was the flag of the Iraqi army, the second was that of the local Christian militia, the NPU. But it was the third banner that he wanted me to notice: the flag of Ali, the fourth Caliph of Islam, revered by Shia Muslims, and the official emblem of one of the Shia “Popular Mobilization Units.”
Why, he asked, was that flag flying as there were virtually no Shabak, the ethnic Shia population, living in this Christian town. Fr. Thabet interpreted its ominous significance: “The next attack on Christians,” he said, “will come from the Shabak.”
I returned to Karamles this past May, and much of Fr. Thabet’s positive dream is coming true. Due in great part to the generous help of the U.S.- based Knights of Columbus, the town is coming back to life, with houses and infrastructure being restored and families moving back. Many challenges remain, however, principally the need for jobs and security. At the entrance to the town is the ancient monastery of St. Barbara, desecrated and used as an ISIS base, complete with large tunnels. It has been restored and celebrations have resumed.
So far, the issue with the Shabak in Karamles has stayed relatively calm. But not so in the town of Bartella, liberated from ISIS in October 2016. It had a pre-ISIS population of 30,000 people, the majority of whom were Syriac Christians.
I have known the pastor of Bartella, Fr. Behnam Benoka, since I first visited Iraq in early 2015, when all of the Christians of the Nineveh Plain, some 120,000 people, had been driven out by ISIS. Fr. Benoka was then running a medical clinic in one of the largest refugee camps in Erbil, dealing with families traumatized after having fled their towns and villages with only the clothes on their backs. Fr. Benoka, widely regarded as one of the most able and effective Christian leaders in Iraq -- he speaks multiple languages, including excellent English -- was the priest telephoned by Pope Francis in December 2014 to share his concern for all the persecuted Christians terrorized by the Islamist terrorists.
In May of this year, I walked through the Old City of Mosul, perhaps the first Western priest to ever do so, accompanied by armed Iraqi police. Much of the Old City was still dangerous, with IEDs that had yet to be cleared and, sadly, many unrecovered bodies. However, driving into the town of Bartella, I felt a much greater sense of oppression than I’d felt in Mosul just hours before. Those in the town have a feeling of being surrounded. Meeting with Fr. Benoka in his parish, he confirmed my feelings.
Bartella, a Christian town for centuries, was controlled by the Shabak militia’s “Brigade 30,” one of the Hashd al-Shaabi PMU forces backed and resourced by Iran. Fifteen years ago, U.S. military forces assisted in settling some 2,000 Shabak families from Mosul and placed them in and around Bartella. That was already a considerable change to the demography, but after the entire Christian population fled from ISIS in 2014, it could be argued that Bartella’s fate was sealed.
Last week I spoke with Fr. Benoka for over 40 minutes on FaceTime. A few weeks ago, the Shabak militia blocked the road to his church, preventing his congregation from attending. They also strafed the church with gunfire. Fr. Benoka told me that this was the second time his church had been attacked in the last nine months. One of the militiamen held a handgun to the priest’s face when he went out to demand that they clear the street and stop shooting.
Later, in a provocation unreported in any media, the same hostile militia went to Qaraqosh, the largest Christian town on the Nineveh Plain, and menaced the people living there. Fr. Benoka told me that the Shabak want to drive the Christians from the area. “They are the new ISIS,” he told me. “We are really vulnerable.”
The Iraqi army controls the entire Nineveh Plain, at least in theory, but it has failed to intervene. This is unsurprising since the PMU militias were legalized by the Iraqi parliament in 2016 and are, effectively, an army within the army. It is also important to note that Kurdish forces, the Peshmerga, are not allowed to enter much of the territory of the Al-Hamdinya District, which critically includes Qaraqosh, thus leaving the Hashd al-Shaabi in effective control.
Since the removal of ISIS control of the Nineveh Plain (“defeat” is perhaps an unwise word as ISIS attacks are continuing on an almost weekly basis), the area -- which has had a Christian population since the time of the Apostles -- is now described as “the disputed territories.”
Although never ethnically Kurdish, the Kurds are making claims to the land, as are the Shabak and, of course, the central government in Baghdad. In the middle, with no support, no protection, and no influence, is the Christian population.
On Dec. 11, President Trump signed the Iraq and Syria Genocide and Relief Accountability Act of 2018, the long-promised legislation authorizing U.S. aid to commun
ities being targeted with genocide or war crimes. Already, assistance is beginning to arrive, helping rebuild towns destroyed by ISIS. Another positive development is the presence of Max Primorac, USAID special representative for minority assistance, who is on the ground in Erbil. Primorac is highly regarded locally as someone who is deeply committed to helping religious minorities under threat in the region.
There is much to applaud and commend about the new proactive polices of the Trump administration, especially in contrast to the frustrating indifference of the Obama administration. Yet, a real and present threat remains in spite of the rebuilding efforts. Unless the security situation is addressed, which means powerful U.S. pressure applied to the Iraqi government to stop the ethnic cleansing of Christians by the Shabak and Shia militias, Fr. Thabet’s ominous words in Karamles will come true: “The next attack on Christians will come from the Shabak.”
Fr. Benedict Kiely is the founder of Nasarean.org, a charity helping the persecuted Christians of the Middle East.

New Threats and Intimidation Against Iraqi Christians

Edward Pentin

Although ISIS have, at least visibly, been driven out of Iraq, the country's Christians continue to be intimidated by Muslim militants who would rather Christians quit Iraq, even though the Church there dates back to the first century.
A clear example of this was seen two weeks ago when Shabak militia, a mainly Shia Muslim militant group, fired shots into the air around the Catholic church in the once predominantly Christian town of Bartella on the Nineveh Plain, about 15 miles east of Mosul.
When the town’s Syriac Catholic priest, Father Benham Benoka, told them to stop, a militiaman held a gun to his face and threatened him. No local authorities came to Father Benoka’s or the Church’s aid, despite such use of firearms being illegal in Iraq.
Earlier this year, I traveled with Father Benedict Kiely, founder of the charity Nasarean.org for persecuted Christians, to Bartella and met Father Benoka who told us then that the Shabak, being supported by the Iraqi government, had been able to buy up once-Christian owned properties and now dominated the town.
“We’re completely vulnerable,” Father Benoka told us. “What’s going to happen in the future? Who can guarantee us a permanent presence here on the Nineveh Plains? Who can guarantee peace and security?”
But now the situation appears to have worsened. In this Dec. 18 phone interview with the Register, Father Benoka explained the increasingly precarious situation facing Christians there, that Christian emigrants from Iraq will never return while such insecurity continues, and that many Iraqi Muslims are intent on making sure they won’t. “Every single Christian thinks Christians have no rights as citizens of this country,” he said. But he welcomed the Trump administration’s recent help for Iraqi Christians, saying it is better late than never.   
Father Benoka, what kind of intimidation are you and other Christians facing in Bartella?
The problem is that the Shabak, especially the members of the Popular Mobilization Forces, are not controlled in the region. Nobody can control them, not even governmental bodies in Bartella, nor the mayor of the city. So when they have the opportunity, they shoot their guns into the sky beside our Catholic church in Bartella. That happened two weeks ago. I called everyone in the city — the mayor, the police, security. The same happened in Qaraqosh and Mosul, too, but nobody was able to control or stop the shooting. Then these people started threatening me and the people of my church. When we tried to ask them to stop shooting, they didn’t. Up to this day, no one has been able to tell me the names of those who were shooting. Not just men but also women were shooting.
So this is a form of intimidation: shooting around the church?
And what do they want from that?
When I asked them why they were shooting, they just said they were celebrating. When they are happy, they celebrate in this way. But in Iraq, this kind of shooting is forbidden by law but I’m wondering why the police didn’t respond or stop them. They also went shooting in Qaraqosh but no one was able to stop them there, either. When some security officers tried to stop them, they threatened them by saying they would go to their security office and kill them.
Do you think the police didn’t come because the militiamen were just celebrating, they didn’t see them as a threat against you?
They pretend this is the case, but now everyone is asking that if the government won’t protect us, who will? If the government or the local government are not able to protect us, because the PMF belongs to the government, or someone else doesn’t protect us, then it would be better to flee the country. 
The problem is that the Shabak are not controlled, and no one is able to control them. Now we Christians and the churches in our cities are not able to protect ourselves, and the government isn’t able to protect us, either.
Do you see them as potentially as dangerous as ISIS in their threat to the Christians?
You know, ISIS were Muslims and these guys are Muslims. ISIS were Sunni, these people are Shia, but all are Muslims. Everybody hates the Church, everybody hates Christians, and want them out of their historical places. So they intimidate you to get you out?
Yes, for sure this kind of intimidatory behavior will make our people afraid, and then they will start thinking of leaving the city. All of us have started asking ourselves, “Who will be able to protect us if the government won’t?” Also no Christian, even the Church, can take legal action against such persons.
So there’s basically a kind of lawlessness there?
Yes, every single Christian thinks Christians have no rights as citizens of this country.
What could be done to improve the situation?
Christian cities like Bartella are not governed by Christians but by Muslims, so firstly, we want to govern our cities with Christian people. Secondly, we have to have Christian police nearby so they can protect us. Now, all the soldiers, the police, are Muslims and are not able to protect us. The third thing is the demographic shift. This is terrible here in our cities, especially in Bartella. The power is in the hands of the Shabak and the Muslims, and we have no rights in our cities. This is how they’re trying to change the demographics in the city.
Are Christians who left in 2014 when ISIS invaded nevertheless coming back? 
Yes we have 1,250 Christian families who have come back to Bartella but the others are still living in Kurdistan because of this issue: first security, second the demographic shift, and third, a lack of jobs.
How many Christians who used to live there continue to live outside Bartella? 
We have more than 500 families still living in Kurdistan.
What’s your reaction to President Trump signing Dec. 11 the Iraq and Syria Genocide and Relief Accountability Act which clears the way for aid to reach Christians and minorities in Iraq? 
We think that’s the right decision. It should have happened a little sooner, but we understand that maybe they couldn’t do it before now. Now everyone has to work in order to bring to full rights to Christians and Yazidis as normal citizens of the country. Secondly, to help Christians and Yazidis to live in the country, and thirdly, we have to govern our cities ourselves. Why have non -Christians govern a Christian city? 

See also Father Kiely's Dec. 18 report on the current situation in Iraq.
The Chaldean Patriarchate announced Dec. 18 that the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, will be celebrating Christmas in Iraq, from Dec. 24 to 28.
In Baghdad, Cardinal Parolin will meet representatives of the government and the Cardinal Patriarch of the Chaldean Church, Raphael Louis Sako
While there he will visit the Syriac Catholic Church of Our Lady of Salvation where dozens of worshipers and two priests were slaughtered by a terrorist commando in 2010. 
On Dec. 26, Cardinal Parolin will travel to Erbil where he will meet representatives of the government of the autonomous province of Iraqi Kurdistan. While there, he will visit the Syriac Catholic Patriarch, Igniatus Yousef III Yonan, and celebrate a Mass in Qaraqosh before returning to Rome. 

Iraq: card. Sako, “chi divide le persone e crea il caos non dovrebbe essere incluso tra i credenti in Dio”

By AgenSIR

“Nella pace c’è progresso e prosperità. Chiunque divide le persone e crea il caos basato sulla religione, sull’etnia o sul genere non dovrebbe essere incluso tra i credenti in Dio”:
lo scrive il card. Louis Raphael Sako, patriarca caldeo di Baghdad, nel suo messaggio di Natale, diffuso attraverso il Patriarcato caldeo. “La nascita di Gesù – si legge nel messaggio – rappresenta la nascita di un nuovo essere umano come figlio di Dio” che si riflette “nel suo stile di vita, nelle sue opere e nelle sue parole”.
In questo modo “ogni essere umano trova in Gesù un perfetto esempio dell’umanità da seguire per raggiungere l’immagine e la somiglianza di Dio”. “Nonostante il male che è dentro l’uomo – scrive il cardinale – il cristiano ha abbastanza grazia per realizzare il progetto di rinnovamento interiore (la nuova nascita), unendosi al mistero della Pasqua di Gesù Cristo, in cui e con cui egli comprende il vero, ma ricco, significato della sofferenza, della morte e della risurrezione. Questa chiamata richiede impegno quotidiano, impegno, coraggio e duro lavoro”. Da qui l’impegno a favore della pace e dell’amore come indicato da una canzone di Natale che esorta a dare da bere a chi ha sete, a donare abiti a chi è nudo, ad asciugare le lacrime di piange, a riempire i cuori di speranza e ad allontanare desideri di vendetta. “A Natale la guerra si ferma e germoglia l’amore” scrive il card. Sako che conclude: “attraverso la testimonianza della nostra fede, le preghiere, l’amore e il contributo alla rinascita del nostro paese, della nostra società e del nostro mondo, ci ritroveremo a cantare con gli angeli alla vigilia di Natale, Gloria a Dio nel più alto dei cieli e sulla terra pace agli uomini di buona volontà. In questo modo, Dio sarà rivelato attraverso di noi al mondo”.

Parlamento iracheno boccia la nomina della cristiana Hana Emmanuel come ministra per i rifugiati e i migranti

By Fides

La Camera dei rappresentanti dell'Iraq, chiamata ad esprimersi sulle nomine di tre ministri scelti dal Premier Adel Abdul Mahdi per completare il suo gabinetto di governo, ha bocciato la candidatura della cristiana Hana Emmanuel Gorgis alla guida del Ministero per l'immigrazione e i rifugiati. Tra i 276 deputati presenti alla seduta parlamentare, hanno scelto di non concedere la propria fiducia alla candidata ministra cristiana anche 4 dei 5 rappresentanti eletti nei 5 seggi parlamentari riservati alle minoranze cristiane.
In merito alla controversa candidatura della signora Hana Emmanuel Gorgis, il Patriarcato caldeo lunedì 17 dicembre aveva diffuso una nota – pubblicata dal website ankawa.com – per rispondere ad “alcuni politici” che avevano espresso commenti giudicati “irresponsabili, provocatori e privi di ogni decenza morale” in merito a presunte “ingerenze della Chiesa nelle questioni politiche”.
La Chiesa – si legge nella nota patriarcale – si è sempre interessata ai problemi sociali “per il bene delle persone e la salvaguardia dei loro diritti e della loro dignità”. Nel testo si ricorda chePapa Giovanni Paolo II ha condannato la guerra contro l'Iraq”, mentre Papa Francesco “ha visitato la Birmania e difeso i musulmani Rohingya. Quando la Chiesa interviene nelle questioni pubbliche – continua il comunicato diffuso dal Patriarcato caldeo - non coltiva mai interessi privati” e non vuole sostituirsi alle istituzioni civili, ma intende solo collaborare a promuovere la giustizia e il rispetto dei diritti di ogni essere umano.
In questa fase difficile della storia nazionale, il testo diffuso dal Patriarcato ricorda che il Patriarca caldeo Louis Raphael Sako non ha “risparmiato alcuno sforzo” nell'intento di “favorire la rinascita dell'Iraq”, intervenendo anche presso organismi e istituzioni internazionali, o mostrando il proprio appoggio alle nomine di persone competenti anche quando non appartenevano a formazioni politiche legate alle comunità cristiane. In vista della nascita del nuovo governo – riferisce il testo patriarcale – il Patriarca caldeo ha segnalato al premier incaricato tre nomi di persone competenti come potenziali membri del Consiglio dei ministri. Poi il Primo Ministro Adel Abdul Mahdi ha indicato la signora Hana Emmanuel come potenziale Ministro per i rifugiati e le migrazioni, ben sapendo che tale indicazione sarebbe stata sottoposta al placet del Parlamento. “La Chiesa” ripete il documento “non vuole interferire in alcun modo nel confronto e nei contrasti politici e di partito, ma il Patrarcato caldeo, nell'ambito della responsabilità che gli compete, è comunque intenzionato a operare per il bene di tutti gli iracheni”.

18 dicembre 2018

Il Cardinale Parolin in Iraq per le festività del Natale

By Baghdadhope*

Come annunciato dal sito del Patriarcato Caldeo, il Segretario di Stato vaticano, Cardinale Pietro Parolin sarà in Iraq dal 24 al 28 dicembre.
A Baghdad il Cardinale Parolin incontrerà  rappresentanti del governo e, come è ovvio, rappresentanti delle chiese d'Oriente. Con il Cardinale Patriarca della chiesa caldea, Mar Louis Raphael Sako, concelebrerà infatti la Santa Messa della vigilia di Natale che si terrà alle 20.30 presso la cattedrale caldea di San Giuseppe nel quartiere di Karrada. Prima di allora il Cardinale Parolin visiterà la chiesa siro cattolica di Nostra Signora della Salvezza dove nel 2010 decine di fedeli e due sacerdoti vennero massacrati da un commando terroristico penetrato nel luogo di culto al momento della messa pomeridiana, e dove assisterà al rito dell'accensione del fuoco che simboleggia la nascita di Gesù. Il giorno successivo sono in programma visite a luoghi simboli della capitale irachena ed ad organizzazioni caritatevoli.
Il giorno 26 il Cardinale Parolin si recherà ad Erbil dove incontrerà esponenti del governo della provincia autonoma del Kurdistan iracheno e da dove partirà per visitare la Piana di Ninive e celebrare, insieme al patriarca della chiesa siro-cattolica, Mar Igniatus Yousef III Yonan, la santa messa nella cittadina di Qaraqosh prima di tornare a Roma. 

Christmas Message: The Birth of a New Humanity

By Chaldean Patriarchate

During the advent season, Christians around the world are preparing to celebrate the nativity of Jesus Christ, Who offers the project of the new birth of humanity. So, human being is the focus of Jesus’ mission and ultimately is the focus of the Church mission. According to which man becomes human, not a “predatory beast”. In fact, the status of human in Christ has been elevated to a “complete-perfect humanity” and the term used in Chaldean-Syriac language is MITHBARNASHUTHA, which means humanization.
The birth of Jesus Christ represents the birth of a new human being as a son of God: in His lifestyle, works and words. So that, every human being finds in Jesus a perfect example of mankind to follow and achieve the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1/26). Jesus Christ lived, loved, served, and worked as a man “but has been put to the test in exactly the same way as ourselves, apart from sin” (Hebrews 4/15).§
In spite of the evil that lies in “man”, the Christian person has enough graces to achieve the project of internal renewal (the new birth), by joining the mystery of the Passover of Jesus Christ, in and with which he understands the actual “but rich” meaning of suffering, death and resurrection. Therefore, as Christians we should realize that in practicing every sacrament of the Church, such as the baptism and the Eucharist, etc. we are receiving the great grace of “unity” with Jesus Christ and incorporating to Him: “since every one of you that has been baptized has been clothed in Christ” (Galatians 3/27). This call requires daily commitment, effort, courage and hard work. Even though, the air we breathe is the joy of the Gospel, and that our strength and consolation are in the Holy Spirit who guides and accompanies us.
This call is also addressed to every man of good will, who opens his heart sincerely to the grace of God to work in him.
Because of Jesus Christ we become the children of God, especially when He taught us to pray, “Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven …”. It is from this faith that our quest and our prayers begin to achieve the beatitudes of Christ in us and around us, so His kingdom shall be realized on earth as it is in heaven, the kingdom of brotherhood, love and peace among all mankind.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth; Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted; Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled; Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy; Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God; Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God; Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
(Matthew 5/ 3-10).
Accordingly, we are in Christmas when Jesus Christ is born in our hearts, and when we apply the service of peace and love as stated in the following Christmas Carol in Arabic:
When we give a cup of water for the thirst, we are in Christmas
When we clothe the naked, out of love, we are in Christmas
When we wipe out tears from others’ eyes, we are in Christmas
When we fill hearts with hope, we are in Christmas
When I kiss my friend without cheating, I am in Christmas
When I get rid of the spirit of revenge, I am in Christmas
When my heart is dominated by staleness, I am in Christmas
When myself is melted into the entity of God, I am in Christmas
*On the Christmas Eve, hatred erased, on the Christmas Eve the earth blooms
On the Christmas Eve war will stop, on the Christmas Eve love sprouts.
Thus,through the testimony of our faith, prayers love and contribution to the revival of our country, our society and our world, we will find ourselves singing with the angels on the Christmas Eve: “Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will” (Luke 2/14). This way, God will be revealed through us to the world.
Below are Some Questions for Reflection and Self-Revision
: What does it mean to be Christian? Is your faith essential in your life, and has the priority in your actions and decisions? or what else may identify you as a Christian from others?
Do you pray? Do you go to the Church and feel you are a member of its’ community? In which and within which you live your faith, and realize strength and unity with others? Otherwise, what is the meaning of your “Christianity” without this testimony of faith, prayer, and service?
Your faith and your prayers prepare you for “blessings”; help you to see people, events and things with the eye of God; and allow you to receive the Holy Spirit and feel that God is “closer to you than vein”.
Your faith opens the way for you to live the Word of God on daily basis, and become the Son of God rather than a servant of the devil!

I hope Christmas will be an opportunity to deepen your faith and demonstrate the service of love and peace, as stated by Pope Francis in his homily at St. Marta’s Church, 2018/12/06. “We must prepare for Christmas to build peace in our souls, family and the world”, because in peace there is progress and prosperity. Whoever divides people, and creates chaos based on religion, ethnicity or gender is not one of the believer in God and has no religion…
Merry Christmas for all and peace be in Iraq and the world!

Iraqi priest rebuilds church in war-torn Mosul, hopes faithful follow

By Catholic News Service in AINA
Paul Jeffrey

Christians are cautiously returning to Mosul, the once-bustling Iraqi city that for three years was the capital of the caliphate established by the Islamic State group.
They just aren't spending the night.
"There are almost no Christians in Mosul at night. During the day, there may by 60 or 70 Christians who come here to work, along with up to a thousand Christian students at the University of Mosul, but they go back to safer towns at night," Father Amanuel Adel Kloo told Catholic News Service.
Father Kloo, a Syriac Catholic, was the last priest to leave Mosul after it was seized by Islamic State, also known as Daesh or IS, in 2014. He remained for a month after the takeover, but eventually left, fleeing to Irbil.
"At the beginning they tried to show people they were good, that they would simply control the area and things would be normal. But then they showed their true face," he said.
In Irbil, he ran a camp for hundreds of displaced Christian families, but soon after Mosul was liberated by Iraqi forces in 2017, he began returning to the war-ravaged city.
In parts of the city, particularly on the wealthier east side of the Tigris River, recovery has been swift. Today, restaurants are packed and businesses flourish. But in the western portion of Mosul, particularly the old city, block after block of rubble hides decomposing bodies and unexploded ordnance, the legacy of months of heavy fighting and airstrikes as Islamic State fighters made their last stand, often using residents as human shields.
"They called it our liberation, but it was really our destruction," said Hussain Ahmed, an Islamic teacher in the old city who has returned to live in the remnants of his heavily damaged house.
"It was sad to see the city destroyed," said Father Kloo. "Two of my churches were hit by airstrikes, while two others were damaged. And what was left was looted. Daesh sold the windows and doors and light fixtures. Nothing was left but the walls. But I don't feel hopeless. I have returned to Mosul to rebuild and carry the cross high."
Many Christian homes in Mosul were occupied by IS fighters during the occupation, but Father Kloo said that, following the liberation of the city, other residents looted many of the houses.
"I started working with the police and army to solve this problem, and they put an end to it," he said.
While in Mosul, at night the priest sleeps in the home of a Christian family that is too frightened to return, and by day he supervises the rebuilding of Our Lady of the Annunciation Church. Beside the church he plans to build a dormitory, so Christian university students will have a place to stay and no longer need to commute through a maze of checkpoints run by the police and army, as well as the dreaded Hashed al-Shaabi militia posts where both Christians and members of the local Sunni majority are regularly harassed and threatened by Shiite militants.
"Many Christians come to Mosul every day but leave before night. My hope is that if there's a priest and a church here, they will feel safe and begin to stay," said Father Kloo.

ACLU: ICE is releasing Iraqis it has imprisoned since summer of 2017

By Michigan Radio
Tracy Samilton

This week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is expected to release many of the roughly 100 Iraqis it has detained since the summer of 2017.
That's after a federal judge gave the government a deadline of December 20th to let them go.
In a scathing opinion, the judge said the government knew it would not be able to deport the detainees, because Iraq wouldn't accept them. The judge said government attorneys made false statements to justify keeping the detainees locked up indefinitely. 
Miriam Aukerman is with the American Civil Liberties Union. In an interview with Stateside, she characterized the government's stance:
"ICE said, 'we can lock people up and throw away the key, it doesn't matter how long it takes. We're going to lock you up until we break your spirit so that you agree to go to a country where you might well die,'" she said.
Aukerman says many of the detainees are Chaldean Christians, and many have been living peacefully in the U.S. for decades. Many also had committed no crimes other than staying beyond the expiration of their visas. 
She says being deported to Iraq would have put the detainees in grave danger, whether because they were members of a minority religion, because of their ethnicity, because they had no friends or family in Iraq and didn't speak the language, or simply because they would have been perceived as American.
Aukerman says the government has notified attorneys that it will not meet the December 20th deadline for all of the detainees, and will petition the government to allow it to keep some of them indefinitely. An ICE spokesman has not yet confirmed this. Aukerman says the ACLU and other attorneys will keep fighting until every one of the Iraqis has been released.

17 dicembre 2018

Patriarchs of Syriac Churches Meet Austrian Cancellor

Bar Daisan

December 14, 2018

Photo Ankawa.com
A delegation of three Patriarchs of Churches of Syriac tradition from Syria and Iraq visited the Austrian Federal Cancellor Sebastian Kurz on Wednesday, December 11. Cardinal Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako from Baghdad, (Chaldean Church of Babylon), Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II Karim from Damascus (Syriac Orthodox Church) and Patriarch Ignatius Yousef III Younan from Beirut (Syriac Catholic Church) are in Europe to lobby for support for Christians of the Middle East.
Prior meeting with the Austrian Cancellor, the Patriarchs met with Cardinal Christoph Schönborn in a Christmas reception at the Archbishop's Palace. At a press conference following the meeting with Cardinal Schönborn, the Patriarchs emphasized that the Archbishop of Vienna, with his many visits to the region, has shown great solidarity with the Christians in the region and is "very familiar with the situation of Christians in the Middle East."
According to Patriarch Sako, the situation in Iraq has recently been marked by some improvements. The deciding factor is the demonstrated openness of the state leadership, which "strives for reforms."
But the biggest challenges are the ideology of extremism -- based on political Islam - and the migration of Christians from the country. Political Islam is "a risk for all," said Patriarch Sako, adding that "Western countries should put pressure on governments to push back this extremism, and I believe that Muslims in Western countries could be helpful in this."
The Patriarch argued that the migration of Christians from the homeland is seen as a negative development by moderate Muslims as well. Therefore, the return of people to their towns and villages and the reconstruction projects are regarded as highly important.
Echoing Patriarch Sako's statements, Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II Karim said "we are afraid that we will not be [existing] in our country in a few decades...the West has no interest in our efforts as Christians to live on." Instead, Christians are "criticized for supporting this or that regime," continued the Patriarch, ignoring that Christians are only fighting for their survival. Explaining why Christians are against a regime change in Syria Patriarch Aphrem said: "The current government is a secular government for us Christians, a secular government is the best option, and our biggest fear is that a change will bring a religious government to power."
Patriarch Younan said he had argued in the West against this naivety back in May 2011, saying that "democracy cannot be simply exported to countries that have been ruled for centries by one-person and where a separation between religion and state never existed."
Patriarch Aphrem emphasized the need to materially help Churches in Syria. As an example and in order to keep young people in the country he pointed to a new Christian university with five faculties that was opened in October. This university is also open to Muslim students. But "financial means are also required for employment programs and for the reconstruction of destroyed churches and buildings," concluded the Patriarch.
As an immediate follow-up action, the Austrian Federal Government, in cooperation with the Austrian Bishops' Conference, has decided on Wednesday December 12, to support concrete projects in crisis areas and former crisis areas with an amount of 1,000,000 Euros. The funds will be provided from the current budget of the Federal Chancellery.
Gudrun Kugler, an MP of the Austrian People's Party who was present at the meeting, commented that "the local churches know best where reconstruction aid, restoration of villages and church infrastructure is necessary. Through our support, the churches can advance initiatives for democracy-building and inter-religious links. This is particularly evident in the area of Christian education, which is open to all faiths. By directly supporting the affected Christian communities, Christians will be able to stay or return to the Middle East. Thus, the extinction of Christianity in its region of origin can be prevented. For this the Austrian Federal Government, above all the Federal Chancellor, is to be thanked very much!"