Iraqi bishops hopeful elections mean beginning of a new start for Christians

.- In the wake of the January 30 elections, various Iraqi bishops expressed their hope they might signify a new era for Christians and especially for Catholics eager to rebuild the Church in the country.

According to Aid to the Church in Need, several prelates reported voter turn out to be almost 80%.  Thus the first elections to be held after the fall of Saddam Hussein could be the breaking point in the need to create a free and pluralistic country.

Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk said that in his diocese participation by Christians was high, which led him to hope that Christians would have a significant representation in the new government.

Meanwhile, in Baghdad Christians also turned out to vote in large numbers.  Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad Andraos Abouna said people were convinced Christians would have a key role in the future of the city.

Bishop Abouna said that while results are being tallied, the Christian community is determined to leave behind the experiences of the last few months, a period Bishop Abouna described as “chaos and terrorism.”

Both bishops highlighted the participation by local parishioners, despite intimidation and violence from extremists, who threatened minority groups if they showed up at the polls.  The bishops added that as part of the reconstruction of the Church in Iraq, schools and colleges that were damaged during the war would be rebuilt.

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