International News

Iraq Cardinal: US Govt Has Done ‘Nothing’ to Help Christians

By Ines San Martin

ROME (Crux) – According to the head of the Iraq-based Chaldean Catholic Church, the United States government has done nothing to aid Christians in Iraq.

Pope Francis greets Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad, Iraq, during a meeting with Chaldean Catholics at the Church of St. Simon the Tanner in Tbilisi, Georgia, in this Sept. 30, 2016, file photo. Patriarch Sako was one of 14 new cardinals named by the pope May 20. (Photo: Catholic News Service/Paul Haring)

Hungary, he added, has understood that the priority has to be to help Christians stay where they are – where they were born – and “instead of welcoming refugees, they have given $5 million to help Christians in Iraq and Syria to rebuild their villages. If we leave, we’ll lose our identity, our patrimony.”

On the U.S. policy, he said he doesn’t understand why they help one regime change into another, “or why do they keep killing people?”

He also floated a few questions that he left unanswered, such as “who’s financing [Islamic terrorist organization] ISIS that has decimated Syria and Iraq and forced millions to flee their homes.”

“Why are there 3.5 million Iraqis outside of their homes? Who will restore Iraq’s normality? This is a big political responsibility. The policy is not only looking for political interests but also to respect human beings,” Cardinal Sako told reporters at an encounter on the sidelines of the Oct. 3-28 Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.

Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana was also present at the press conference, and was quick to make a clarification regarding U.S. aid for the reconstruction of Christian villages in Syria and Iraq.

Aid from Organizations, Individuals

He said, “even though there’s been no help from the government,” there’s been a lot of money coming in the form of organizations related to the U.S. Church and also from ordinary citizens.

Speaking about the synod experience – this is his fourth – Cardinal Sako says he’s learned a lot and that he believes the presence of 35 young people in the meeting has enriched the experience, although he says there were not nearly enough youth represented.

He also wants the Church to find a language that is comprehensible to young people, because “we’re used to a traditional language that today doesn’t speak,” he said, noting that he says this as a patriarch of an Eastern Church.

“I come from a country that has suffered a lot, and unfortunately in the ‘Instrumentum laboris’ [the document the bishops have been using to kickstart the discussions], we talk a lot about problems, including migrants, but very little about these young persecuted Christians,” Cardinal Sako said, adding that despite this omission, it is being addressed in the small working group discussions the bishops take part in.

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