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Council of Christian Leaders in Iraq founded

18 February 2010

To: The heads of churches in Iraq

Your Beatitudes, your Eminences and Excellencies,

Ministers in the service of Christ,

Greetings to you in the precious name of Jesus Christ!

We are deeply encouraged and gratified with news from Iraq about the creation of the Council of Christian Church Leaders in Iraq. This is information we receive with great hope and deep satisfaction. In our view, it is a development that augurs as much for the future of the churches in Iraq as it does for Iraq as a nation. The visible unity we seek in response to the prayer of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (John 17:21) is both a gift and calling. Discovering the presence of the crucified and risen Christ among us, we are coming closer to each other. Overcoming what separates us, we are comforting and strengthening not only each other, but also engaging together for the betterment of our neighbours and societies.

The WCC has repeatedly affirmed that Christians in Iraq are an essential part of Iraqi society and have been an active component of the nation from its very birth. Iraqi Christians have never viewed themselves as simply a minority community who stand for their own interests. They have always shown their deep rootedness in the history and civilization of Iraq.

It is for this reason that we celebrate the formation of the Council of Christian Church Leaders and congratulate the leaders of the Council for formulating a vision that is unequivocally committed to the advancement of all Iraqi citizens. From this standpoint, the Council’s plan to engage in promoting ecumenical initiatives and dialogue and partnership with Muslims is an essential assertion.

In your statement of intent, you have clearly set out the link between advancing and supporting the Christian presence while, at the same time, promoting Christian participation in public life based on the rights of citizenship and “building the nation as a tent and a house for all”.

The WCC wishes to assure you that we join hands with you in this defining moment of the church in Iraq. Our prayer is that the Council may grow in strength and reach to all peoples in the true spirit of its founding aims and purposes. We commit ourselves as a fellowship of churches from around the world to accompany you in the arduous tasks that face the Iraqi churches in the rebuilding of your nation.

Speaking personally as one newly appointed general secretary to another, I particularly wish to congratulate His Eminence Avak Asadourian on the honour and responsibility that are now his, and I assure you all of my continuing support in prayer.

May God’s blessings go with the Council in this pilgrimage.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General secretary
World Council of Churches