Rome (Agenzia Fides) - In Iraq and Syria, "without peace, there is no hope for anyone", and only the end of sectarian conflicts can ensure the survival of the indigenous Christian communities in Mesopotamia. This is how Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, highlighted the dangers that threaten the present and the future of Christians in vast areas of the Middle East. The Cardinal spoke during the presentation of his book «The Church in Iraq. History, development and mission, from its beginnings to the present day», held on Wednesday afternoon, October 28 at the Aula Magna of the Pontifical Urbaniana University.
The current and substantial documentary value of the book written by the Cardinal and published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana, were presented by the speakers who intervened during the presentation: The rector of the Pontifical Urbaniana University Fr. Alberto Trevisiol, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Louis Raphael I, and Professor Joseph Yacoub, Unesco tenure "Mémoire, cultures et interculturalitè" of the Catholic University of Lyon. During the presentation, moderated by Professor Lorella Congiunti, vice-rector of the Pontifical universities, besides Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and Giovanni Battista Re, also numerous Chaldean Bishops, who in recent days are Rome to attend the Synod assembly of their Church, were present.
Cardinal Filoni’s book - who during the meeting often referred to his experience as Apostolic Nuncio in Iraq and Jordan from 2001 to 2006, during the years marked by the US led military intervention and the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime – traces the history, the development and mission of Christian communities in the geographical area corresponding to current Iraq, from the beginning to the present day. The work is a valuable antidote to carelessness that also mishandles the thousand-year old history of Eastern Christians: "to know the history of Christianity in the Middle East and especially Mesopotamia" - writes the author - is the only way to "understand the reasons and the dramatic events of that region and appreciate the life, the culture, the witness of faith and the reasons for the Christians' attachment to their land, but also the hatred of their enemies».
Thanks to the interventions of the speakers, the connotation of martyrdom, that still continues to mark the whole history of the Christian communities of those lands, emerged several times. Rector Trevisiol pointed out the value of the work also as testimony of closeness to the churches that now suffer persecution by the jihadist "Caliphate". Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I announced the imminent publication of the Arabic version of the book, and recalled with gratitude the two visits made by Cardinal Filoni among the Iraqi refugees as a special envoy of Pope Francis, in August 2014 and on Easter Sunday this year. Professor Yacoub, on his behalf, put the emphasis on the consistency of the book from a historical point of view, referring to the many unpublished documents cited, "that Cardinal Filoni examined in the years of his presence in Iraq". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 29/10/2015)