Iraqi Archbishops call for restraint, wisdom and peace following attacks
by Amanda Bridget Griffin
Published to the web January 9, 2020
A ballistic missile attack by Iran in the early morning hours (local time) Wednesday, January 8, on two US military bases in retaliation for a targeted US drone strike on December 31, 2019, has left the country of Iraq and Iraqi Christians at the centre of a theater of violence between the powerful countries of the United States and Iran. With deep concern for the Iraqi faithful, the latter prompted Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, Iraq, to send out a statement received by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) today, addressing the international community. In his statement, Archbishop Warda echoes the recent words of Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako in a Homily given in Baghdad on the heels of a deadly drone strike which heightened tensions in the region to a fever pitch. The two Church leaders have called on all parties to exercise restraint and wisdom—and for the international community to intervene to “defuse tensions.”
As reported by the Catholic News Service on January 3rd, the cardinal said: “It is unfortunate that our country turns into an arena for settling scores, rather than being a sovereign homeland, capable of protecting its land, wealth and citizens.” Cardinal Sako continued, “In the face of this sensitive and dangerous situation, we call on all the parties concerned to exercise restraint, show wisdom and act rationally, and (to) sit at the table of dialogue and understanding to spare the country the unimaginable consequences.”
Here is Archbishop Warda’s statement in its entirety.
Statement from the Chaldean Archdiocese of Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq
The current tensions between the two powers must not escalate. Iraq has been suffering from proxy wars for decades; they have torn our country apart.
We are a courageous people of hope. Since the defeat of ISIS in May 2017 by the coalition forces, our archdiocese has been working with other church leaders, Christian agencies, humanitarian agencies, governments and NGOs to help rebuild our fractured communities in Mosul and Nineveh Plain. It has been a very challenging road to raise funds and international support to help us to physically regain what we lost starting in August 2014.
The current tensions are threatening the serious fragility of the communities, which are tired of war and the tragic consequences of it. They have continually suffered far too much and can no longer face an unknown future. They need the certainty, reassurance, hope and the belief that Iraq can be a peaceful country to live in rather than being victims and endless collateral damage.
As Church leaders we will always follow the path of God in seeking peace, reconciliation, mutual dialogue and not conflict. His Beatitude Cardinal Sako, Patriarch of the Chaldean Church, rightly expresses the fears and anxieties of the people and their hope to be spared from the damage and tragedy of war. We are united in his call to prudently seek civilised dialogue and to pray for peace.
We seek the urgent action of the international community to use their influence to diffuse the tensions. Our prayer is for peace and that dialogue resulting in a just and peaceful outcome will be the path followed.
Archbishop Bashar WARDA CSsR
Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil
Aid to the Church in Need has supported Christians in Iraq for many years and especially since the onslaught of ISIS (Daesh) in 2014 which drove Christians from their ancestral lands, many of whom took refuge in Erbil and in the Werenfried Village erected for them by the Church and supported by the charity. ACN has also committed to helping Iraqi Christians return home through the participation of a “Marshall Plan” to rebuild communities and churches on the Nineveh Plains. It is estimates say there are only approximately 250,000 Christians remaining in Iraq.