Church Leaders Offer Ecumenical Prayer for the Liberation of Mosul

2017 as the "Year of Peace", celebrated by the Churches and the Christian communities in Iraq to promote national reconciliation and to save the country from the centrifugal forces that may continue to threaten national unity, even after the release of Mosul and Nineveh Plain by the IS jihadists. 

This is the "operational" proposal made by Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako during the meeting of ecumenical prayer for the liberation of Mosul, celebrated this week in Ankawa, a suburb of Erbil inhabited mostly by Christians. 

The crowded ecumenical prayer, housed at the church dedicated to Mary, Mother of Perpetual Help, was attended by, among others, Mar Gewargis III Sliwa, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East. Priests, men and women religious and many lay people, and Nicodemus Daoud Matti Sharaf, Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan of Mosul, along with priests and Christian politicians. 

After the recitation of the psalms and the reading of a passage from the Gospel of John, Chaldean Patriarch Raphael Louis, in his speech, expressed the shared hope - entrusted to prayer - that the process of liberation happens any time soon, and causes the least possible number of human losses. 

The Primate of the Chaldean Church expressed gratitude to all the forces involved in the military operation, making explicit reference both to the regular army of Iraq and the Kurdish Peshmerga militia, and citing "Christian and Muslim, Arab, Kurd and Turkmen" soldiers. 

The Patriarch also expressed the intention to proclaim 2017 as the "Year of Peace in Iraq", creating moments of ecumenical prayer and shared ecclesial initiatives to nurture the "culture of peace and coexistence" in the Country torn by sectarian strife. 

The announced release of Mosul, which united different forces, according to Patriarch Raphael Louis can become the beginning of a process of national reconciliation based on shared perspectives and points, to regain stability and lost unity. 

The Primate of the Chaldean Church has foreshadowed the creation of a committee that brings together political, social, religious and cultural representatives, called to redraw together the future of the region freed from Daesh, in dialogue both with the central government and with that of the Autonomous Region of Iraqi Kurdistan. 

In his speech, the Patriarch also recalled the urgent need to safeguard, with concrete initiatives - and not with speeches -- the requests of Christians who fled from Mosul and the cities of the Nineveh Plain in front of the advancing of jihad militias. 

For the Primate of the Chaldean Church, the Iraqi nation, in its different ethnic and religious components, must "learn the lesson" and take advantage of the opportunity offered by the historic liberation of Mosul to start building an authentic rule of law, founded on the principle of citizenship and able to guarantee the equality of all citizens before the law, without discrimination based on ethnic and religious affiliations.
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