Rorate Caeli


August 5, 2014

Your Holiness Pope Francis
Your Beatitudes the Patriarchs of the East
Your Excellencies the Presidents of the Bishops' Conferences

The Christians of Iraq face an enormous tragedy

The Christians of Mosul (Nineveh Province, Iraq), horrified, have fled the city with only the clothes they were wearing. Their churches have been profaned and on August 2, a mass migration took place from the villages of Telkev, Batnaya and Telleskuf as, knowing that the small town of Sinjar alongside other neighboring villages had fallen and seventy persons had been massacred, gave rise to panic. There, on Monday, August 4, ISIL commenced the bombardment of the village of Telkef and a young Christian was killed. This having been said, it is evident that there is practically no collaboration between the central government and that of the Kurdish Region and, in addition to that, the new government is not yet formed!

As for our political parties, they have failed in every tangible manner, and this for reasons well known to everyone as well as to each of these parties themselves.

As for the Church, she finds herself completely alone, more than ever; nevertheless her leaders are strongly required to react before it is too late in applying the necessary pressure on the international community as well as those other decision-makers in view of fundamental answers necessary to the scandalous crimes and the destructive conspiracies that affect, above all, unarmed citizens in Iraq, Syria, and in Palestine - Gaza.

It should be noted that the motivation for all of these killings is the lust for everything that lies beneath the earth like oil and gas...what else explains this war so curiously radicalised and, as if following an excellently premeditated plan, does not take the least account of the destinies of the people.

We are equally shocked and indignant with the absence of a vigorous position taken by Muslims and their religious leaders, not the least because the actions of these factions represent a menace for Muslims themselves.

In fact, speeches are good for nothing, so too declarations that rehash condemnations and indignation; the same can be said for protest marches. In addition, while appreciating the generosity of our donors, we would say that donations and fundraising too are not what will solve our problems. We have to demand a large-scale administrative [governmental] operation on an international level. There is in fact the need for awareness, in conscience, regarding this simple human principle: the demand for real actions and solidarity because we are before a crisis related to our very existence, facing the fact that "we will be or we will not be."

This is an appeal from the bottom of the heart in the search for a solution that lies uniquely in the hands of the international community and above all with the great powers. We address ourselves profoundly to their consciences and that they should review their positions and to re-evaluate the impact of the situation of today.

These powers face a human and moral responsibility. It is no longer reasonable to take recourse to double standards. They are called to free themselves from their narrow interests and to unite themselves in a political and peacekeeping solution that puts an end to this conflict. These powers must vigorously exercise pressure on those who support financially and train militarily these factions and so cut short these sources of violence and radicalisation.

Concerning the Christians of Iraq, in our pastoral ministry towards them, we also call upon the international community: our Christians are in urgent need of humanitarian aid, as too they are in need of an efficient, true and permanent protection that reassures them that there is no end to their existence, whose origins are so deeply rooted in Iraq; this also concerns Christians in other regions of the Middle East that are burning and being torn apart.

We also appeal to our brothers and sisters around the world, that they too be truly with us in solidarity at this our time of suffering this terrible ordeal; that they live with us this feeling of solidarity as if belonging to the same family.

We are in need of a communion of the heart, and for prayers with our faithful during this terrible ordeal as we experienced during the visit of the delegation of Bishops of France presided by His Eminence Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon.

We remain believing in dialogue, exchange and conviviality.

That God may grant us the grace and possibility to overcome this trial, that He remove from all hearts all hatred and violence.

In great union of prayer,

Louis Raphael I Sako
Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans

[French original text; translation provided by the Patriarchate, adapted where necessary.]

[Note: following this letter, this Wednesday, the Christian capital of Northern Iraq, Qaraqosh or Bakhdida, suffered the first attacks of Islamist forces, with three Christians already killed.]