An Australian representative of the Consulate General of the Republic of Iraq has visited the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East in Sydney, offering the Iraqi Government’s sincere condolences for the martyrdom of more than 50 faithful Christians in the Our Lady of Deliverance Syriac Catholic Church, Baghdad.
His Beatitude Mar Meelis Zaia, Archbishop of the Diocese of Australia, New Zealand and Lebanon welcomed the ambassador, His Excellency Mohsen al-Samarrai, and received a copy of the statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressing its deep sorrow and condemnation of the terrorist attack that resulted in the death and injury of innocent Christians, including two priests.
Mr al-Samarrai expressed deep regret at what had befallen the Christians – who represent a critical part of Iraq’s history, present and future – and lamented this great loss, which he said was painful for all Iraqis as Christians are an integral part of the nation.
On his part, His Beatitude Mar Meelis Zaia addressed the underlying perception that Christians are separate from other Iraqi citizens that are also suffering in their homeland and have made a clear contribution in building the pillars of civilization in Iraq.
His Beatitude said the best answer for the crimes committed against all Iraqis is active and concerted efforts to accelerate the formation of the Government and continued work to end conflicts that beset the political crisis in Iraq, through a Government that is devoted to addressing the country’s security, services and economic development.
Furthermore, poverty, unemployment and deteriorating living conditions in addition to the lack of cultural dimensions and education are incubators for terrorism, while the extreme of these factors threaten the future of Iraq and pose grave dangers.
His Beatitude said it is necessary to put all of Iraq’s capabilities in serving its children, rights and interests towards building the elements of success as the prosperity of any country relies on spreading the spirit of fraternity and collaboration between the components of the nation’s fabric.
He added that the Government should use its funds to help build up its citizens and not abandon the original problem, and highlighted the importance of being aware of communities exposed to underdevelopment, violence and engaging in terrorist organisations.
His Beatitude said there was no point in rebuilding destroyed churches as they will again be attacked if Christianity continues to be unacceptable to the surrounding population, unless greater emphasis is placed on respect for beliefs and their sanctities.
Terrorism does not affect only the Christians but also includes Muslims as well, added His Beatitude, who emphasised the importance of expanding tolerance and love among Iraq’s people.
The bombing of the Al-Askari mosque in Samarra, as well as other places of worship, and the wave of four car bombs that followed the attack on the Our Lady of Deliverance Church is proof that the final aim of the terrorists lies in the destruction of Iraq.
His Beatitude commented that the Iraqi Government’s wish to build modern cities will compete with the security and services that exist in countries abroad – how can we ask of Iraqi refugees to return to Iraq to face the same circumstances that forced compulsory departure from this country? How can we ask of those who lived in western countries and saw the amount of services and development to return to cities where there is no stability and security of living and embrace the tragedy and trouble?
Christians and non-Christians would like to see Iraq prosper with sophistication in all fields; to walk in the footsteps of development and modernity.
His Beatitude prayed for the day when Iraq’s universities can once again be the most useful for her sons; hospitals the most sophisticated in the Middle East; and the Government of Iraq to put the public interest in security, stability and improved economic situation above its own agenda and protect its citizens, including Christians.
We are not asking the west to defend us, said His Beatitude, but we ask Iraq’s Muslim majority to ensure stability in the country.
His Beatitude offered the Divine Liturgy at St Hurmizd’s Cathedral in Sydney on Sunday 7th of November, praying for the repose of the souls of the martyrs of the Church of Our Lady of Deliverance in Baghdad, and wishing the wounded a speedy recovery.[nggallery id=98]