Card. Sako: ‘The fruits of Youth Synod for Iraq, bridges of dialogue ‘
At the conclusion of the Synod, the Chaldean patriarch addresses the young people Iraq inviting them to work for “coexistence”. Card. Sako calls for enhancedrole of women and the importance of consecrated life. The “little flock” in Iraq must be ready to face current and future challenges with “trust and hope”.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) – Young Iraqi Christians are “a bridge for dialogue” between cultures and religions, in particular “between Christianity and Islam” to “consolidate cohabitation”, says the Chaldean Card. Louis Raphael Sako, in a message published on the website of the Chaldean patriarchate and sent to AsiaNews.
By giving greater value to the role of women and the importance of consecrated life, the cardinal invites young people to be custodians of “identity, faith, moral values, traditions and language”. A commitment that also involves the Chaldeans of the Diaspora.
Here is a broad summary of the message of Patriarch Sako. Translation from Arabic by Fr Rebwar Audish Basa:
In light of the Synod of Bishops on the theme “Youth, faith and vocational discernment” held in Rome from 3-28 October 2018, we would like to address this Pastoral Letter to Iraqi Christians and, in particular, to the Chaldean youth as a sign of our affection. And to say that we are proud of them and of their firmness in facing the challenges and the series of crises, for their determination to remain in their homeland guarding their identity, faith, moral values, traditions and language, even those of the diaspora.
First of all, we would like to reiterate that the Church is their home, and they have their place and role in it. And the Church with its ministers, bishops and presbyters, offers them all the support it can. This Synod wanted to “go beyond the Church” to encounter young people – and through them other people – in their reality and actuality.
Iraqi Christians, and especially young people, have experienced God’s love for them, and they in turn expressed fidelity, especially when they left everything in their cities and villages to preserve their faith. Some have sacrificed their lives, receiving the crown of martyrdom. We thank them and we are proud of them.
The mission of the Church
The universal mission of the Church is to proclaim the Gospel, to bear witness to life, to celebrate the liturgy, that is to celebrate the presence of Christ in the community, and to serve others, ‘deaconry’. Young people would like the Church to be close to them, present in their midst, in solidarity with them, express their affection for them, embrace them, support them and strengthen their belonging to it, so that they too proclaim the Gospel to their peers.
The common vocation
The Synod participants reiterated that the starting point of faith is the family. In fact, the family is the first school and a micro-church, being the environment in which the child is born, and in which he or she receives faith, grows, matures and learns to live. All this shows the essentiality of the formation of every Christian family in a healthy and profound way to be able to live the sacrament of marriage and its sacredness, and to be able to educate their children in an atmosphere full of love, affection and tenderness, with free will , responsibility, maturity.
The young are members of the Church and collaborators
The young are full of precious energy. These energies must be used to proclaim the Gospel and the common good. In addition, young people have an extraordinary ability to overcome challenges and achieve beautiful and useful things also through the digital world (social media).
Pastors must integrate young people into small groups such as in fraternities and in various parish activities. In this way they can meet people truly witnesses of Christ, whom they trust and make the journey of faith together. It is important to give responsibilities to young people, and if they are wrong it is not a problem, because they learn from their mistakes. We should therefore recognize that young people are members of the Church and are fundamental collaborators. Unfortunately, we Easterners have benefited littlefrom the Second Vatican Council, especially as regards renewal. I believe it is time to return seriously to its teachings to make our way to renewal and new evangelization.
Today we have a great need for specific vocations, that is, people who are able to dedicate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel and serving others with full conviction, honesty, enthusiasm, love and joy. It is equally important to experience the joy of prayer and the reading of the Holy Scriptures, and to follow the examples of the marvelous icons of vocations recounted in the Holy Bible. All this nourishes the vocation spiritually and gives it a continuous impulse.
And as far as seminaries and monasteries are concerned, emphasis must be placed on collective life on the principle that the monastery forms “one family”, in which harmony, joy and respect for diversity in unity prevail. . Furthermore, the Church must clarify her teaching on the subject of the body and sexuality as they are gifts of God.
Youth and society
Our world suffers injustice, lack of equal opportunities, unemployment, poverty, violence, migration and marginalization … Therefore young people must engage in social and political work and be part of it to contribute to realization of justice, equality, brotherhood, love and peace. Here we emphasize the role that the Church must play in the formation of young people to prepare them for this mission. On the other hand, young people need to know the social doctrine of the Church and be a bridge for dialogue between cultures and religions, especially between Christianity and Islam, to consolidate coexistence.
What can be implemented
Today the time has come for the Church, being “father and mother” of her children, to move, unite and work as a team made up of ministers and faithful. We must train ourselves to listen to young people and others, to know their realities and situations not in theory but in practice. The Church which is a “house of charity” must […] welcome, protect, promote and integrate. The Church must always remember her prophetic role. We hope that every bishop makes a small universal Church and a family from his diocese.
1) Give special attention to young people in the ecclesial communities to realize the concept that “the church is a family”, and so that everyone is welcomed, listened to, embraced, supported.
2) To develop leadership talents and energies in young people, men and women without distinction, in the ecclesial life, because the Holy Spirit gives his gifts equally to men and women. We will take the initiative to build a youth center in Baghdad, so that it is a center of spirituality, culture, and sport, with a library and internet.
Women in the Church
The time has come to reevaluate the Church’s vision on the role of women in society and in the Church, also in the light of cultural and social developments. Young people believe that the Church does not give women their true place. Therefore, the Church must revise her position and her strategy towards woman, based on the principles of faith. And she must especially appreciate the charism of women in announcing the Gospel and serving people in the field of sober education, accompaniment, administration, pastoral activities and liturgy.
Although the Christians remaining in Iraq are a “little flock”, we are still strong as the “yeast, salt and light”, so we must organize ourselves and our home and prepare ourselves to face current and future challenges, with awareness , faith, determination, trust, hope and unity as a team. Here we would like to invite our dear young men and women to read the story of the two disciples of Emmaus (Luke 24: 13-35) with whom Jesus walks, to whom he listens and with whom he shares. We invite them to join the journey of these two disciples with the same enthusiasm and joy. Pope Francis emphasizes the presence of Christ in the Church, saying: “Christ never abandons the Church, he gives to it the strength and the proper instruments for a new path” (Letter to the People of God, 20 August 2018, N ° 2). So you are the present and the splendid future of the Church and of society.
O Lord, “Stay with us, because it is evening and the day is at sunset” (Luke 24.29).
* Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad and president of the Iraqi Episcopal Conference