ICC Note: A delegation of church leaders met with Iraq church leaders to show their support for Christians during this incredibly hard time. They called for an end to the violence and urged the international community to do more to end the attacks against Iraq’s religious minorities. They also urged Christians to stay, fearing what would happen to the region were Christians to completely abandon the region.
12/08/2014 Iraq (CruxNow) The top Catholic official in Iraq says the current US-led bombing campaign will not dislodge the radical Islamic State, and he is pleading for a stronger response from the international community to ensure Christians can remain in the region.
“Bombing is also killing people, destroying the infrastructure, houses, schools, churches,” said Patriarch Louis Sako, head of the Chaldean Catholic Church.
“There’s no military solution for the conflict, especially when there are no troops on the ground providing assistance,” he said.
Sako spoke to Crux in Iraq, during a 48-hour pilgrimage led by Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, France. Together with 100 of his flock, Barbarin traveled to Erbil, capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, to spend the weekend with more than 400,000 people displaced by violence.
Sako, who leads 500,000 faithful, said the only way ISIS could be expelled is through cooperation between the international coalition led by the United States and the Iraqi central government.
He said that for many months “the world turned its back” to what was happening in Iraq and Syria, where almost a half-million Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities currently live in “crowded cabins or out in the open, in small tents that cannot shelter them from the cold winter.”
Sako said the presence of Christians in the Middle East is an unparalleled tool for peaceful coexistence in the Middle East.
“What’s going on in Iraq is a tragedy, and it’s an international moral duty to help those who are paying the price of fundamentalism to stay at home,” he said.
Sako said that without Christians, the region would lose important gifts.
“They’re an elite of very well-educated people that hope to remain in their country,” he said. “If they’re away, fundamentalist groups start running around the area. It’ll be just like it was when we had the Taliban.
For Sako, the French delegation’s visit had two meanings.
“They came to support the displaced families, to remind them that they’re not alone nor isolated,” he said, “and also to show with concrete action that they’re supporting us, praying for us.”