“The West must not remain indifferent”
Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon, spoke after Pope Francis’ ecumenical encounter in Bari with Christian leaders to reflect on and pray for the Middle East. “I am so full of hope, and I return with such strength!” said Sako.
Sako said the ecumenical meeting above all represented “unity” among the heads of the different Churches and representatives of different cultures. This meeting itself was a message to the whole world and in particular to suffering Christians in the Middle East: “We are close to you, we pray for you, we think of you, we are at your service!”
Pope Francis in his speech during the meeting insisted that those present were called to offer human and spiritual closeness to the people, as pastors. “We talked about everything, about how the Church is built up even in the midst of the difficulties, and the sufferings of our people. A Church that prays, that is faithful, that hopes, but also a Church at the service of the people,” he said
The Cardinal is convinced that all Christians are united in faith and that cultural and geographical differences between them are normal because the message of the Gospel is incarnated in different cultures, through inculturation.
The message he will convey to the faithful in Iraq is “we are all close to you, at your service until the end, even to martyrdom. Even today there are martyrs who shed blood, not just in the past … and we are ready!”
Sako believes ‘there is a future for the Gospel’ in the Middle East, and that the quality of those witnessing the Gospel in his country counts more than numbers. He admits there are problems but says the impact and strength of the Christian message in the Middle East depend on the quality of the testimony “You imagine 120,000 people leaving their homes at night with only the clothes on their backs and leave everything, leaving the Nineveh Plain and Mosul, to escape. They are confessors of faith! “
He concludes by saying that “the West must not remain indifferent, even if today it is even ashamed to say that its civilization is Christian … and this is a shame for me!”