.- Archbishop Louis Sako said this week, âIraq without Christians is a poorer country. It would be disastrous for peaceful coexistence and for tolerance not only in Iraq but in all of the Middle East.â
According to the SIR news agency, the archbishop made his comments during the national gathering of diocesan delegates for ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue in Italy. He lamented the dramatic situation of Christians in Iraq, âhalf of whom are refugees in other countries to escape the violence, rapes, murders and kidnappingsâ they have been subject to by Muslim extremists.
âIraq is a country run by terrorists whose leaders are not Iraqis but foreigners, and in which the cultural class is dispersed. Christians are the scapegoats to be eliminated, to be hunted down on the streets, in order to institute an Islamic state. They are considered âdhimmi,â or second-class citizens.â âWe can celebrate our rites,â he continued, âbut we cannot proclaim the Gospel. There are Muslims who ask for baptism in secret, but later they are forced to flee. Freedom of conscience does not exist, and therefore conversion to other religions is not allowed,â he added.
However, the archbishop explained, all of this does not prevent inter-religious dialogue. âWe can dialogue with Islam about human life. We bear witness to our Muslim brethren of our faith in God with fidelity, Christian morality, patience, forgiveness and humility. We bear witness to God with our charity.â