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3-IRAQI-CHECKPOINT

Pope Francis makes an urgent appeal for peace in Iraq

Pope Francis has made an urgent appeal for peace in Iraq, as increasingly violence in the troubled Middle Eastern country has seen Christians flee in huge numbers.

The fall of Iraq’s second city of Mosul to militants led by ISIS—the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant—last week sparked fears the country was descending into sectarian civil war and violence has continued in the past few days.

“I invite all of you to unite yourselves with my prayer for the dear Iraqi nation, especially for the victims and for those who most suffer the consequences of the growing violence, in particular the many persons, among whom are so many Christians, who have had to leave their homes,” Pope Francis said last Sunday at his weekly Angelus address. “I am following with lively concern the events of these last days in Iraq.”

In his prayer, the Holy Father said that he hoped that all people in Iraq would find ‘security and peace and a future of reconciliation and justice where all Iraqis, whatever their religious affiliation, will be able together to build up their country, making a model of coexistence.’

Amel Nona, Mosul’s Chaldean Archbishop, said that he thought the city’s last remaining Christians had left now the city, which until 2003 was home to 35,000 Faithful.

As the chaotic situation develops, Fr Kais Mumtaz a Chaldean priest in Kirkuk says he fears the country is spiralling towards

civil war. “Everything seems to be leading towards a military management crisis only, towards civil war,” he said. “And now this scares many Christians even more than the advance of the Islamists. The war makes no distinction between soldiers, terrorists and civilians. It strikes Christians, Sunnis, Kurds and Shiites in the same way.”

Fr Kaiz said that Iran has sent General Qassem Soleimani to Baghdad, and Iranian President Hassan Rohani told a press conference he did not rule out collaboration with Washington against the Sunni militia jiahdists of ISIS ‘if we see that the US begins to oppose the terrorists in Iraq or elsewhere.’

“At the same time, the Iraqi Shia Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and even the leaders of the Iranian Shiite militia Moqtada al Sadr and Asaib Ahl al Haq have called civilians to take up arms against the jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq of the Levant,” Fr Kaiz said.

On Wednesday, June 11, the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans Louis Raphaël I Sako proposed the creation of a ‘national unity government’ as a political response to the sectarian divisions that could lead to the dismemberment of Iraq.

 

 

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