UKRAINE Baghdad, Card. Sako: with the pope for peace in Ukraine

Tomorrow, Iraqi Christians will join the pontiff for the consecration of Russia and Ukraine to Mary. The government has no “clear” position on the war, it seeks to safeguard relations with Moscow and Washington. Solidarity and closeness in a letter sent to the Archbishop of kyiv. Those who have lived through war “know what disasters it can cause”.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – Iraqis “are against war”, ordinary people “want peace” in Ukraine as in their own country, calls for detente are multiplying on television because “we have lived through” conflicts and violence, and its first-hand consequences, says the Chaldean Patriarch, Card. Louis Raphael Sako. He shared his fears with AsiaNews on the new front that opened at the gates of Europe after Moscow invaded kyiv, with the risk that it could turn into a conflict on a global scale with the use of atomic weapons.

That is why tomorrow the Iraqi Church will join Pope Francis on the occasion of ta consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. “We have planned a prayer service at the Marian shrine in Baghdad,” explains the Chaldean primate.

He continues that the government has “no clear position” on a war which is part of “a complicated situation at the regional and global level”. The authorities in Baghdad, who pride themselves on solid economic and military ties with Washington and Moscow, “cannot make a clear choice of terrain”. However, the population “remembers the same scenario lived 20 years ago” with the American invasion and the fall of the regime of Saddam Hussein – as before with the war in Kuwait.

“At that time, I was in Mosul. We lived for more than a month under American bombs,” he recalls. The solution to the problem, he warns, can only pass “through dialogue”. If there is no confrontation, no open exchange of positions, the damage will “affect everyone”. In recent days, I sent a letter to the Archbishop of kyiv expressing our solidarity and our closeness. From Iraq, we pray for peace, dialogue and a solution to Anyone who has lived through the war”, he warns, “knows how many disasters it can cause”, both human and material.

In the meantime, the first consequences of the Ukrainian crisis are beginning to be felt on the economic level. In recent days, protests have erupted in the south of the country over soaring food prices, which local officials say is linked to the conflict. For the past week, the price of cooking oil and flour has been soaring on local markets, triggering demonstrations of discontent that the authorities have tried to defuse by announcing measures to support spending. The scene of the protest was the central square of Nasiriyah, already the epicenter of the 2019 popular uprising against corruption that spread to most of the country.

“Rising prices are strangling us, both for bread and for other foodstuffs,” Hassan Kazem, a retired teacher from the city, told AFP. “We are barely able”, he added, “to make ends meet”. The central government recently announced measures to limit the consequences of the rise in world prices, allocating an allowance of approximately 64 euros to pensioners with incomes below 630 euros per month; the bonus is extended to civil servants earning less than 310 euros. In addition, customs duties on foodstuffs, basic consumer goods and materials used on construction sites have been suspended for two months.

The Iraqis are “tired” of the suffering they have suffered and experienced in recent years, to which the various governments have tried to “respond” but which have remained in practice “unresolved”, accumulating over time various “crisis factors “. The pope’s visit last March, still relevant, “was a message of joy, peace and coexistence” for all. To commemorate this event, the patriarch concluded, “we recited the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, followed by a special prayer addressed by a Shiite, a Sunni and a Yazidi. United under the banner of peace.”

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