Chaldean Bishop Asks for Help

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Canada,

As Bishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Syria, I have witnessed over the last 10 years all the misfortunes that have befallen the Christians in the Middle East, the Holy Land and especially Iraq. In this letter, I would like to share with you the concerns of our Churches, of our families who worry about their children’s future, and quite simply, their very survival.

Heirs of the Churches of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria and Mesopotamia, who are fully integrated in Arab-Muslim societies and able to coexist and dialogue with them, Christians of the Middle East represent for the East as well as the West bridges of communication and dialogue.

The Church of Canada and its followers can contribute enormously to the building of peace and the promotion of justice and brotherhood in the world by supporting the Churches of the Middle East.

By speaking of Iraq and of its Christians, particularly the Chaldeans for whom I serve as Bishop in Syria, I direct your attention to the problems and difficulties facing all Eastern Churches. As a Christian minority attached to the Gospel’s teachings of reconciliation and forgiveness, Iraqi Christians endure all sorts of violence in a country which has descended into anarchy and vengeance. Thousands of families have lost their homes and belongings and now face an uncertain future. Thousands have fled to Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, where they have found caring and welcoming Christian communities.

By acting in a spirit of solidarity, you will relieve many fathers and mothers traumatised by war and by having to flee everything they ever knew as well as offer a brighter future to young people craving an education and children who need food and clothing so that they can grow up in dignity.

In Syria, where I live, I have nothing but great admiration for Iraqi Christians. Despite all the hardships they face – killings, kidnappings, threats and robberies – they remain Christians of immeasurable dignity, faithful to their prayers and without rancour. They love their country, as our Faith teaches us, and do all they can to be a leaven of peace and reconciliation for everyone in Iraq and the Middle East. Truthfully, all the suffering they have endured has only brought to light the true quality of these ancient Christians.

Help us continue to be living Churches; Churches that promote a civilisation of love; Churches that are witnesses to freedom and the Grace of Jesus Christ.

Aleppo, October 25, 2008

+Antoine Audo
Chaldean Bishop of Damascus, Syria

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