"Such a witness of Christian unity is made all the more urgent and necessary by the complex situation that the country faces and the real danger of loss of the Christians and the Christian presence," he said.
In addition to the challenges posed by violent extremism, the region has also undergone new threats to social stability with a Sept. 25 referendum held by the Kurdish Regional Government on whether to declare independence from the central Iraqi government in Baghdad.
In the referendum, Kurds voted almost unanimously in favor of the referendum, prompting concern on the part of some that a declaration of independence would lead to war between Baghdad and Kurdistan, which would likely take place on the Nineveh Plains, again putting Christians in harm's way.
In his speech, Cardinal Parolin stressed the need to work for unity, saying one of the greatest challenges in Iraq right now is "to create the social, political and economic conditions to enable a new social cohesion which favors reconciliation and peace."
This also entails ensuring Christians and other minorities have full rights, he said. Christians do not want to simply be "benignly tolerated," but want "to be citizens whose rights are protected and guaranteed along with all the other citizens," he said.
And without the option of returning to the cities and villages of their birth, "very little of the aforementioned would be possible."
"Christian presence is fundamental in the Middle East for peace, stability and pluralism," he stressed. "Each of the Christian communities have made their own contribution in the centuries."
The presence of Christians is in "constant decline" due to a lack of security and an unclear future, Parolin said, adding that the conflicts and tensions of recent years have made the situation worse, posing a risk "not only for the survival of Christians, but also for the very possibility that the Middle East can be a place of coexistence between peoples of different religious and different ethnic groups."
He stressed the importance of safeguarding the rights of Christians by means of "adequate juridical instruments," including their right to return home, their right to security and to religious freedom.
"There is likewise a need to address the root causes of the phenomenon of terrorism and to promote inter-religious dialogue, mutual understanding," he said, noting that while "much has been done" since the effort to re-take Mosul began a year ago, "much remains to be done."
"The process of reconstruction (and) the return of Christians to a degree of normality in their lives should be the primary and urgent objective of our efforts," he said.
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This, Cardinal Parolin added, "will allow the Christian community in new force to face up to other challenges that await them, so that they can be fully and generously engaged in working for the common good of the entire nation."
In his speech, which was a joint statement from the patriarchs of the three Christian Churches in the region, Patriarch Sako said that in the face of the Christian genocide perpetrated by ISIS, "it is our duty" to reconstruct the houses and villages of Christians.
Their presence in these areas, he said, "is as important as maintaining witnesses of Gospel values, otherwise, they will leave the country."
In order to help Christians stay, he stressed the need for educational and political support, humanitarian assistance, the defeat of fundamentalism, and security and stabilization of the areas freed from ISIS so that those displaced by the group can return home.
"Iraqi Christians need well-defined support and strong action to save them and help them return to their towns, homes and jobs," he said, urging those in positions of authority to be "seriously open-minded."
In many ways, Iraqi culture is still deeply "tribal," Sako said, and as such is frequently drawn to war, violence and revenge.