Baghdad (Agenzia Fides) - "I would like to express to each of you my closeness and understanding for the difficulties and emergencies you are facing, but also to tell you that there is no reason to despair. The Lord calls us to be a living and strong Church, a Church that bears his word, his love and his salvation". With these words of consolation, Iraqi Cardinal and Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako began the "welcome speech" addressed to the more than 450 boys and girls who came to Baghdad from all over Iraq to participate in the first Chaldean Youth Encounter, which took place on Thursday, November 18 at the Chaldean Cathedral of St Joseph. A meeting of young people - the Patriarch pointed out - convened as an opportunity to renew the personal encounter with Christ, and which had been intended to be organized for a long time, but which until now had been made unfeasible due to the stormy events in the country, the lack of security in travel and the Covid-19 pandemic. In his speech, the Patriarch reminded young Christians that in their life of faith they they lived the experience of martyrdom, calling them "our pride", and emphasized in particular that the younger generations in the Church do not have a "decorative function", reiterating that ecclesial life needs their talents, their thoughts and their creative impetus. With regard to the three-day meeting convened in Baghdad, the Iraqi Cardinal expressed the hope that it will become an opportunity to help each participant rediscover the sources of their own Christian identity, so that the ecclesial community can also offer its contribution more effectively to the rebirth of the nation and to the common good of the Iraqi people.
The meeting of the Chaldean Youth lasts until Sunday, November 21, and has as its motto the phrase "You are a living Church", words pronounced by Pope Francis in Baghdad, in the homily of the liturgical concelebration he presided over in the Chaldean Cathedral of St. Joseph during his pastoral visit to Iraq.
During the three days, in the different community moments on the agenda, some topics related to the encounter with Christ and the ecclesial life of the young Chaldean generations will be discussed. The boys and girls gathered in Baghdad will also be asked to express their expectations about the synodal journey begun in the Catholic Church with a view to the next Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The impressive exodus of Christians from Iraq in recent decades has affected the younger generations of the baptized most of all. The meeting of young people called by the Chaldean Patriarchate represents an attempt to take charge of this phenomenon as well, and to ask oneself about the treasures that must be preserved and the graces that must be asked to see the miracle of faith in Christ flourish and flourish in the lives of Iraqi boys and girls. (GV) Agenzia Fides, 19/11/2021)