The Ayatollah Seyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad, has written a heartfelt letter to Pope Francis, asking him to intervene to stop sanctions against Iran, especially those to related to medical care as the country is suffering badly under the Coronavirus.
Ayatollah Damad has for decades been committed to bridging the distance between Iran and other countries in the world. During the Extraordinary Synod on the Middle East in October 2010, Pope Benedict XVI invited two Muslim leaders, one Sunni and one Shiite, to participate: Ayatollah Damad was the Shiite leader.
In the letter, Ayatollah Damad, who is currently Head of the Islamic Studies Department of the Iranian Academy of Sciences, says: "In these days in which men all over the world are seriously threatened by the appalling spread of COVID-19, I am deeply convinced that the Holy Father, with sincere love and compassion, continues to pray that this international tragedy may cease and human suffering finds relief."
"In Iran, with the rapid spread of COVID-19, Iranian people - children, the elderly, men and women who live in towns and villages - are struggling painfully with the loss of loved ones caused very often by the serious lack of medical resources due to the consequences of sanctions imposed by the United States. They have greatly multiplied the sufferings and afflictions of the oppressed Iranian Muslim people, and have forced them to face countless problems that have had a profound and negative impact on their life, on their peace and spiritual tranquility and moreover, have deprived them of the most basic and inalienable human rights."
The letter continues: "Without judging the root causes of these inhuman sanctions imposed by the United States, as an Iranian Islamic scholar, I humbly ask you, as a beloved world leader of Catholics, to intervene so that those sanctions are eliminated." This, concludes the Shiite leader, is "a humanitarian action" proper to those who believe in Jesus who "for the whole world is a universal symbol of peace and love."
Commenting and supporting the appeal, New York based Fr Elias D Mallon, Franciscan friar of the Atonement, specialising in dialogue with Islam, said: "Since all humanity suffers due to the Coronavirus, we urge you to do everything possible to revoke the humanitarian sanctions against Iran so that Iranian people can enjoy the medical assistance they need. We do not want to minimise the profound differences between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. But the norm of behaviour towards enemies established by Jesus is not that of their destruction but rather that of reconciliation (Matthew 5, 21-26). The death of many Iranian citizens - the elderly, women, children, civilians - certainly does not contribute to promoting peace. It is urgent to initiate the most correct actions and pray."
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