The following appeal to the Christian churches of the world on behalf of the Christians of Iraq has been sent out today by Bishop Antoine Audo SJ, who is responsible for Syria's Chaldean Catholic community. Today in Iraq we are witnessing the daily unfolding of many tragic events. However, at this time of Christmas, we wish to especially remember the plight of the tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians who have been displaced made refugees. At this time, as Christians, we cannot but think of the Holy Family who were vulnerable and alone, but we know from this event that God spoke to humanity through the birth of Jesus the Saviour of all humanity. Iraq is the home of one of the most ancient expressions of Christianity on earth. From Jerusalem, the birthplace of Christianity, it spread to the Middle East before reaching the West. In Iraq today, the Christian communities find themselves in a situation of great difficulty. Without a Christian presence in the region we will see a great diminution of historical vitality for all its cultures and people. Iraq has been called the cradle of ciivilization. It should be recalled that Christians have played a significant role in disseminating the riches of classical thought to the western world for many centuries. It is from Mesopotamia that the great evangelisation of Asia departed for Iran, Central Asia,.China and Indai. The historical reality of this great Christian outrreach can still be recognised in the literature and place names and cultures of Asia. We can proudly proclaim that the Christians of Mesopotamia have made a profound and significant contribution to the growth and development of global Christianity. Today we need to utter a warning that without the vibrant living presence of the ancient Churches of this region the identity of global Christianity itself will be lessened. In all humility, we also wish to say to our Jewish, Muslim brothers and sisters and to members of other Churches that we wish to journey with you as fellow pilgrims. At this time we ask all Christians around the world to pray for us Christians of the Middle East. As a bishop. as a priest and as a Christian I further wish to appeal to all the sons and daughters of Christ, that at this time of great tragedy and difficulty you may help us witness to the importance of our faith and our presence here as a sign of Christian hope to the wider world
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