Kirkuk (AsiaNews) - "For us Christians of Iraq, martyrdom is the charism of our Church, in its 2000 year history. As a minority, we are constantly faced with difficulties and sacrifices, but we are aware that bearing witness to Christ can mean martyrdom. In the Arabic language they have the same root: Shahid wa shahiid!. "
These the words of the Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk, Msgr. Louis Sako, AsiaNews, summarizing what the past year for Iraqi Christians.Yesterday in Baghdad, six bomb explosions in front of Christian homes left two dead and 12 wounded. The bombs exploded in the Ghadir quarter, where there is a significant Christian presence in Yarmuk, Khadra, Dora, and Saidiya Karrada, near the church of Our Lady of Salvation, where last October 31 terrorists killed more than 50 Christians.
"These acts - points out one faithful - have created a climate of panic and disappointment among us The government is not doing anything. Attacking Christians has become a normal phenomenon in Iraq. We are a convenient target.Christians continue to flee to Kurdistan, and every day brings new families. 700 families have arrived in Erbil; 116 families in Soulaymaniyia. What future awaits them this winter? Where are our religious authorities, while they kill us for our faith?We Christians have not celebrated Christmas, we will not even celebrate the New Year. "
Archbishop Sako, who has welcomed many refugee families to his diocese, underlines their faith. "Here in Iraq we understand that faith is not an ideological or theological speculation, but a mystical reality. Faith is a personal encounter with someone who knows us, loves us and to whom we give ourselves totally. For faith, one must always be willing to go beyond, even to sacrifice. Martyrdom is an expression of loyalty to that love. On 31 October, Fr Wassim, the young priest from the Syriac Catholic cathedral turned to the terrorists and cried: Kill me and free the faithful. He knew what he was saying, this was his commitment of love for Christ and for his flock. "
"Christians around the world - continues Bishop. Sako - can renew their faith and their commitment to being in contact with Iraq's persecuted Christians. At the same time, the friendship, solidarity and support of our brothers and sisters of the West gives us the courage to resist and remain in our land and in our churches, continuing our presence and Christian witness. Knowing that you stand by us, urges us to cultivate a common life, in peace and harmony with our Muslim brothers. "