VATICAN CITY, JAN. 9, 2003 (Zenit.org).- A prelate of the Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans made a moving appeal for peace in face of the threat of a military attack on Iraq, his country.
"I appeal to the whole world, to all men of good will, to join the Pope in praying for peace," Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni said today in statements broadcast by Vatican Radio.
"And we pray that this peace will descend from the omnipotence of God," he said. "We ask for it with the strength of our faith, of our prayers, of our love. Thank you and pray for us. Do not forget us."
Bishop Warduni continued: "We do not understand this war. It is a threat to our children, our elderly, our sick, our young people, who for 12 years have known nothing about their future. Where is freedom? Where is Christian charity?"
"We ask to live like men, we do not ask for anything extraordinary," he added. "Why do they have to come here? Because we have oil? Let them take the oil but leave us in peace. Because Iraq is rich? But this wealth comes from God, not from ourselves. What is our fault?"
To those who are aware of the Iraqi government's grave responsibilities, Bishop Warduni explained: "All are to blame. All have caused the past wars and this one, which is about to be verified. How can we define it as a just war?
"The Church in Iraq has done and always will do everything possible so that peace will prevail. With this objective, together with other Christians present in Iraq, we fasted and prayed for a day. For the first time, we were all together: Catholics, Orthodox."
That event Nov. 29 ended with a joint appeal by Catholic and Orthodox bishops for the world to avoid war in Iraq. "We base ourselves on the principles of peace of the Gospel," the bishop clarified.
Christians comprise 3% of Iraq's population, about 670,000. Three-quarters
of the Christians are Catholics, the majority of the Chaldean rite.