VATICAN CITY – The Vatican signaled its support for the international meeting on Iraq that took place in Egypt in early May, and Iraq’s Chaldean bishops asked participating countries to do more to end violence and protect Christians in the country.
After former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami met Pope Benedict XVI May 4, the Vatican published a statement saying the two leaders reaffirmed “the need for strong initiatives by the international community, like that occurring in these days at the meeting in Sharm el Sheikh,” Egypt, to bring peace to the Middle East.
More than 50 nations sent representatives to the May 3-4 meeting in Egypt to discuss debt relief, aid and security in Iraq. The participants included the United States and other members of the U.N. Security Council, the world’s richest countries and nations bordering Iraq, including Iran.
In a letter published by the Rome-based AsiaNews, the Chaldean Catholic bishops of Iraq asked participating nations “to intervene without delay to protect innocent Iraqis, their property, their rights and their personal freedom.”
“We also appeal to all the religious authorities to let their voices be heard in the defense of the salvation of our country and its sons and daughters,” the letter said.
In particular, the bishops asked that much more be done to stop “the threats, kidnappings and forced emigration of our Christian people” from Iraq.
Islam and Christianity, they said, are monotheistic religions that aim to spread charity, the common good and peace.
“God knows of our differences, which exist by his divine will,” they said, quoting the Quranic verse: “If your Lord had wanted, he would have created all men as one nation.”
The Chaldean bishops said, “We must accept his divine design and respect diversity, which makes of us one garden with different flowers, of which each one glorifies God the creator with his own perfume.
“We believe that religion is a catalyst for peace and we are convinced that God reveals himself with great clarity in the practice of peace, justice, mercy, tolerance, reconciliation and forgiveness,” the letter said.