The Chaldean Patriarch warned of Christians’ disappearance in Iraq if there is no change in thought and the national system.
He remarked this at the introductory address at the opening of the Synod of the Chaldean Church held in Baghdad from August 21 to 27.
Cardinal Raphael Louis Sako reiterated the need to rewrite the present Constitution and law, which is far from nepotism and favoritism so that the system will be "a democratic system based on citizenship."
He noted that the Islamic heritage in Iraq still "makes Christians second-class citizens and allows the usurpation of their property."
Citing Pope Francis’ words, the cardinal encouraged citizens to work with other citizens "to create an environment conducive to the respect of diversity and the right to full citizenship."
He added by "helping the people to open up to hope and arming their faith and solidarity, so they can address the present challenges with the same courage Christ had."
The Chaldean Bishops urged the political leaders of Iraq to drop their personal and partisan interests so that the formation of a new government can gear up amidst corruption and economic crisis.
The cardinal highlighted the responsibility and authority in the church to be carried out always "in the spirit of Christ and the strength of the church is in the service to others."
He urged bishops to relate to priests in a "paternal" rather than "authoritarian" manner, which can pose the "greatest danger" to unity and priestly witness.
The cardinal said, "Our authority is based on being apostles, through collegiality, which extends to all members of the People of God (the Church); priests, religious men, and lay people, irrespective of gender and social class, united in the work of the Church, even if the responsibility for decisions falls on our shoulders."
The Patriarch encouraged the Chaldean bishops to focus on priestly and religious vocations as their priority because they are the future of the Church.
The cardinal encouraged the priests to carefully prepare the readings, ornaments, hymns, music, prayers, and homilies so that everyone could joyfully encounter God in their lives, have trust in their hearts, and find nourishment in their lives.
Cardinal Sako said, "The celebrating priest must understand that the rites are prayer, not just a rigid and monotonous practice, that is, he who prays must live the ritual." - With input from Vatican News
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