Chaldean bishops urge perseverance, preserving identity

ROME (CNS) — Chaldean Catholic bishops urged their people — particularly those who have immigrated to other countries from their homelands — to persevere and to hold onto their Chaldean faith and identity.

Meeting in Rome for their annual synod Oct. 4-8 with Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako presiding, the bishops stressed that, “in these difficult circumstances” in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria, “we wanted to take a realistic and courageous view of all the challenges facing our countries, our church, and the Christians of the region, and thus our dioceses and our people, especially our families who were forced to flee and take refuge in the countries of expansion.”

In a final statement, the bishops urged the faithful “to keep the covenant of your baptism in your hearts and consciences.”

They reiterated that “after all the types of persecution we have experienced through our history, we persevered and kept … faith and hope in our hearts.” They said their faith included “a spirit of solidarity, sacrifice, mutual love, and a spirit of responsibility.”

Noting that the Chaldean church has become widespread in many parts of the world, the bishops said they “wish to remind you, wherever you are, to not forget your Chaldean identity, but instead embrace the language and heritage of your fathers in the new societies that provide openness, renewal, life, and new opportunities for support and cooperation.”

The bishops met with Pope Francis and said he “is praying every day and is working to build peace and stability in your country and in the world.”

“We join our prayers to his prayer, asking the Lord Jesus Christ to make our church a tool of peace, a builder of bridges of reconciliation and a partner in the richness of God’s word of salvation to all people who are close or are distant from us,” the bishops said.

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