Iraqi church representatives statement
In a meeting organized by the World Council of Churches in Dar Sayedat Al Jabal, Fatka, Lebanon, between 10 and 11 February 2009, twelve church leaders from all over Iraq discussed the current situation of its Christians community. Representatives from different Iraqi churches participated in the meeting together with bishops from the Syrian and Armenian Orthodox Churches and the Chaldean Church in Lebanon, and the General Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches.
They discussed the current situation of Christians in Iraq, focusing on the following three main themes:
Addressing the common challenges facing Iraqis, particularly Christians, today above all the issue of safety and security as well as forced migration. And defining their expectations from the act of solidarity and advocacy by the ecumenical family.
Strengthening the Christian presence in Iraq and affirming its role in bearing witness to the faith. Highlighting the role of Iraqi Christians in building educational and social institutions that contribute to national reconciliation, peace building and stability based on respect of diversity and equal citizenship with all Iraqis beyond their religious or ethnic adherence.
Revitalizing Christian-Muslim courageous dialogue in order to promote constructive cooperation and peaceful coexistence.
Participants agreed on the following points:
Christians have belonged to Iraq since the nation's birth; they are not merely a minority but an essential part of Iraqi society and deeply rooted in its history and civilization. As authentic children of this land, they have the right to live freely in it and enjoy equal rights and responsibilities along with all other citizens.
The participants called upon Iraqi Christians not to leave the country, but to stay in their homeland and participate actively in its rebuilding and its development.
They also called on the churches in the West not to encourage migration and resettlement programs for refugees outside Iraq, rather to focus their efforts on bringing back security and stability inside Iraq for all Iraqis. The solution to current conditions lies not in emptying Iraq of its human resources, but in providing a peaceful and safe environment, infrastructures, job opportunities, and in protecting all citizens. The goal is to enable Iraqis to work together, healing wounds and building a better future for themselves.
It is essential that dialogue continue among Christians and their Muslim brothers and sisters in order to promote a constructive and peaceful co-existence based on mutual respect and good citizenship.
Participants pledged to work together on establishing an ecumenical forum for all Iraqi church leaders that allows them to speak with a common voice to religious and political authorities inside and outside of Iraq.
At the closing of the consultation, participants expressed their gratitude to the World Council of Churches for organizing this meeting and to the Middle East Council of Churches for their participation. They also thanked all the churches who expressed solidarity and provided support to the Iraqi people in their sufferings.
Elder Yussef Al-Saka
Presbyterian Church in Baghdad
H.E. Bishop Mar Mikha Poula Auraha
Chaldean Church in al-Qush
H.E. Archbishop Avak Asadourian, Primate
Diocese of the Armenian Church of Iraq - Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
General secretary, Council of Christian Church Leaders in Baghdad
H.E. Archbishop Basilios Georges Casmoussa
Syrian Catholic Church, Mosul
Fr. Nadheer Dako Danha
Chaldean Church, Baghdad
Assistant to the general secretary, Council of Christian Church Leaders in Baghdad
Fr. Sargon Esho Daweed
Ancient Assyrian Church of the East, Baghdad
H.E. Archbishop Mar Narsai de Baz
Metropolitan of Syria, Lebanon & Europe
and Patriarchal General Vicar of the Assyrian Church of the East, Beirut
H.E. Bishop Boutros Harbouli
Chaldean Church in Zakho and Nuhedra
H.E. Archbishop Mor Severius Hawa
Syrian Orthodox Church, Baghdad
H.E. Archbishop Louis Sako
Chaldean Church, Kerkuk
H.E. Archbishop Mor Gregorios Saliba Shamoun
Syrian Orthodox Church, Mosul
H.E. Archbishop Jean Sleiman,
Latin Archbishop of Baghdad