Upon their Pastors’ invitation the Chaldean Catholics are praying and fasting for the peace and security of their much suffered country.
“Let us repent of our sins, pray for the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, think over the meaning of our existence, assume responsibility for our brothers and sisters, our community, and express solidarity (…) with all those who have lost their jobs and livelihood. Give them a helping hand.”- wrote Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako, Head of the Chaldean Catholic Church in his statement published on the Patriarchate’s website.
The prayer call of the guest speaker of the 52 nd International Eucharistic Congress, to be held in Budapest, has been continued alike: “Let us pray for the return of peace, security, and stability to our country, to the region, after all the exhausting wars and conflicts that have devastated it.”
The rite of the “Nineveh Fast” recalls the old times when Jonah, who lived in the city of Nineveh, called for repentance of the population in the area of today’s Mosul. The Bible says that following the fasting God saved the city from devastation.
The fasting has started on Monday, lasts for three days, and means that one refrains from eating and drinking from midnight to noon the next day. Cardinal Sako asked the Catholics to also pray for the success of Pope Francis’ visit to Iraq.
As to plans Pope Francis is set to be in Iraq from March 5 to 8. He is expected to pay a visit to Baghdad and the Christian community living in the Nineveh Plains in Northern Iraq. The papal visit is eagerly-awaited by the Iraqi Catholics. Following the Pope’s statement in an Italian interview, expressing his uncertainty about the feasibility of his trip to the war-torn Middle-East country as planned, Cardinal Sako published a special prayer, inviting the Catholic worshippers to recite this prayer at each Sunday Mass until the Pontiff’s visit.
On January 21, on the very same day when the Vatican released an announcement that the Holy Father’s trip to Iraq was moving forward, there were two suicide bombings in central Baghdad, at the Tayaran square, being popular for its second-hand clothing market. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the twin suicide blast that killed at least 32 people and wounded more than a hundred.
The Chaldean Patriarch said that the attacks triggered great worries and sadness all over Iraq, adding that “those who were killed were all poor, very poor people.”
“Unfortunately all such attacks have a political purpose, and are representing a message both to the government and the new president of the United States” – said Cardinal Sako in an interview with the Vatican Radio on January 26.
The upcoming papal visit is expected to bring the message of comfort, hope, and peace to the Iraqi people – noted the Cardinal. So as he worded: “This trip is an extraordinary and important event for all of us. The Pope comes to tell us: ‘enough, enough of the wars, there has been enough violence. Seek for peace and fraternity and for the protection of human dignity’.”
Chaldean Catholic worshippers are undertaking the fasting not only for Iraq, but for all the people of the globe – explained the Cardinal, adding that compared to other parts of the world there have been recorded a relatively few number of coronavirus cases in Iraq.
“We should pray and ask for God’s help to save us and to put an end to this pandemic around the entire world.” – said Cardinal Sako, an IEC guest speaker.
Photo: IEC Secretariat