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[casi] Iraqi Chald Archbishop:"No War Between Religions"

Chaldean Archbishop in Iraq: "There is No War Between Religions"

Courtesy of Zenit News Agency (25 July)

(ZNDA: Rome)  "I am confident about the future of the Church in Iraq," says
Chaldean Archbishop Emeritus Ishaq Jacques of Arbil presently rector of the
Babylon College, a Pontifical University in Baghdad.

The Babyblon College for Philosophy and Theology has 280 students and it is
an ecumenical institute open to future priests of the various Christian
confessions present in Iraq.

In this interview, Archbishop Jacques comments on the situation in the

Q: Tell us about interreligious relations in Iraq? Is there a danger of a
religious war?

Archbishop Jacques: Many are worried about interreligious relations in Iraq
but they do not take into account that our country has a long tradition of
peaceful co-existence among its people of different faiths, all under many
different regimes, monarchy, republic, the Baath Party. Therefore there is
no situation of religious war although there are isolated cases of
intolerance towards followers of a different religion.

Those who shout the loudest, invoking extremist positions, do not always
represent the majority of Muslims. There are many signs of hope for
interreligious dialogue. For example in the Institute of which I am the
Rector, the Babylon College for Philosophy and Theology, there are 6 Muslim
teachers, most of whom are Shiites. They are happy to contribute to the
formation of future Christian priests and they are proud to teach in our

Q: How has the Catholic community faced the emergency of the war and now the
process of rebuilding the country?

Archbishop Jacques: Everyone in Iraq, Christians and Muslims alike, have
suffered because of the war. But war did not find us unprepared. The local
Church had made preparations a long time before: every parish had supplies
of food and water to distribute to the people, Christians and Muslims. We
offered help to all who knocked on our door, regardless of their religion.
During the war the parish priests and the bishops remained at their posts
with the people. As did Archbishop Fernando Filoni the Apostolic Nuncio.
Masses were said frequently and never stopped even when bombs and missiles
hit out cities. Now we are concentrating on how to help build a new Iraq. As
representatives of Christians in Iraq we have met with most of the Iraqi
political parties. They all assure us that they consider the Christian
presence in Iraq fundamental in order to preserve social and religious
balance in the country.

Q: What challenges face the local Church? What do Christians ask of the
future Iraqi government?

Archbishop Jacques: The challenges we face are the same faced every day by
all Iraqis. These are problems caused by lack of government and essential
services like electricity, water, an efficient police force able to
guarantee security. To solve at least in part the many difficulties facing
the people, in several cities in Iraq, city districts have appointed their
own self-management committees. The local parish priest is always asked to
join the committee, along with Muslim leaders.

We call on the institutions of the new Iraq to allow us to profess our faith
freely, to hold our services, to carry out our ministry and we also ask for
the return of Church schools nationalized in the past.

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