Christians in Iraq mark anniversary of onslaught

Christians in Iraq have marked the second anniversary of the emergence of so-called Islamic State (ISIS) with prayers for peace and a return to the land they were forced to flee.

Led by Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, Christians recalled the “Mosul tragedy (June 10-17, 2014) and Nineveh Plain catastrophe (August 6/7, 2014)” and prayed that the steady decline of ISIS will soon lead to a rebuilding of Christian communities across Iraq.

In an address to Christians, Patriarch Sako reminded them that “our ancestors watered this blessed land with their blood; they were martyrs and witnesses of Christian faith. They planted monasteries together with the grains of wheat and churches with the palm trees as well as schools, hospitals etc. Therefore, we, as their descendants, have to protect what we inherited over thousands of years including land, history, language, values and spirituality. It is our mission to entrust that the light of God will ultimately disperse the darkness and His peace will prevail.”

Acknowledging both the hopes of Christians wishing to return home and the reality that “terrorism has not been defeated yet; the conflicts are not over”, the Patriarch called on Iraq’s Christians not to lose hope that “a better future” awaits them.

“Submitting to frustration and despair is forbidden,” he said. “Even though we admit that we are all sharing the pain and suffering in these circumstances, that should not lead us to give up and lose hope.”