Chaldean Bishops Appeal for Dialogue to Keep Iraq From Civil War

BEIRUT (CNS) — Chaldean Catholic bishops, meeting for their annual synod in Irbil, Iraq, appealed for “courageous dialogue” to pull the embattled country out “from a dark tunnel” and expressed their fear that a civil war could erupt, breaking apart the country.

In a 26 June statement issued during the 24-28 June meeting, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael of Baghdad said the bishops “appeal to all Iraqis responsible for preserving the Iraqi home unity, with its entire components.”

“The bishops urge them to get together and to engage in a courageous dialogue to pull the country out from a dark tunnel which could lead toward the danger of civil war and the dismemberment of Iraq, God forbid,” the patriarch said.

“Haven’t we suffered enough destruction, killing and fleeing? Thousands of Iraqi families have fled their towns and villages and are living under unbearable conditions,” the patriarch said in the statement.

The Chaldean bishops called for “speeding up the formation of a national unity government that comprises all components, capable of swiftly bringing about stability, security and ensuring the availability of basic services desperately needed soon, during a hot summer,” particularly, the statement said, considering the 28 June start of the Muslim period of Ramadan, a month of fasting and repentance.

“The bishops plead [to] the international community and the influential superpowers to assist Iraqis with finding an acceptable political solution which will avoid catastrophe and the destruction of the country,” Patriarch Louis Raphael said.

“May the blessing of God be upon Iraq and Iraqis,” he said.

Iraq was thrown into crisis in mid-June after thousands of armed members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant moved from Syria through much of northern Iraq, killing both Muslims and Christians. On 29 June they proclaimed a “caliphate,” an Islamic state led by a religious leader, across the territories they had captured.

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