Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako, responding to a US drone attack in Baghdad that killed Iran’s top general, said “wisdom is required to avoid the ‘volcanic eruption’ we are about to face.”
Speaking during the Epiphany Mass in Baghdad, he said the current crisis resulted from the “upsetting escalation, as well as the emotional and impulsive decisions taken which lacked wisdom and the sense of responsibility”.
Speaking at St Joseph’s Cathedral in the Iraqi capital, the cardinal addressed his words to world leaders to avoid a further escalation in violence, because, he said, “innocent people will be the fuel for such fire.”
He also invited Christians and Muslims to pray for the decision-makers to act wisely and consider the consequences of their strategies.
Two days earlier, the cardinal said “Iraqis are in a state of shock” following the killing of Iranian Qassem Soleimani and six others.
“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 said.
“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,” Cardinal Sako said.
Iraqis fear their country, already weary from years of war, may be dragged into a conflict between the United States and Iran.
Meanwhile, Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Yousif Thomas Mirkis of Kirkuk, Iraq, warned that the assassination of Soleimani, known as the architect of Tehran’s proxy wars in the Middle East, could spark further sectarian divisions in Iraq between Sunni Muslims and Shiites.
Many of the recent demonstrations rocking the capital, Baghdad, and southern Iraq were against the growing influence of Iran and Soleimani’s al-Quds Force inside Iraq. Soleimani was widely seen as the second-most-powerful figure in Iran, behind Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader. Soleimani is believed to have been responsible for hundreds of US service member deaths in Iraq. He was also Iran’s main strategist in the Syrian conflict.