Candle lights, fragrant of incense and sounds of bells brought back to life in the Chaldean Church of St. Paul in Mosul (Almajmoua’ Althaqafyia suburb). The Eucharist, symbol of the New Testament for the salvation of all mankind is back again on the altar. All this happened on Sunday, 24 December 2017, when His Beatitude the Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako celebrated the mass in participation of the Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni, the Archbishop of Mosul of Syriac Catholics, Putros Moshi and the Archbishop of Mosul of Syriac Orthodox, Nicademos Sharaf, in addition to some priests. Among them Fr. Paul Thabet, was the one who organized the altar. The atmosphere was filled with the praises of the worshipers and the symbolism of the feast was marked by 1,500 food baskets to the needy Mouslian families in cooperation Iraq-Caritas.
The Mass was commenced with an Iraqi Anthem in attendance of several VIPs from Nineveh such as, Major General Najem al-Jubouri; Police Chief Brigadier Wathiq Al-Hamdani, President of Mosul University, Prof. Dr. Obay Al-Dewachi, President of Nineveh University, Prof. Dr. Muzahim Al-Khayatt; leaders of tribes and religious groups and a big crowd of believers.
It is worth mentioning that Muslim youth of Mosul helped in lifting rubbles and preparing the church to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ and in order to encourage the return of Christians to their city, which was initially a Christian city, where the Chaldean Liturgy started. Another promising expression of tolerance and coexistence was a 30-foot Christmas tree placed decorated in the town “celebration square”.
In his homily, Patriarch Sako: congratulated Nineveh people for liberating their city from ISIS and for celebrating Christmas 2017 in Mosul; acknowledged the young Muslims who assisted in cleaning the church and prepared it for this “special” feast; addressed the importance of having both the Christian and Muslim clergy to focus on building the enlightened human being, equipped with love of God and His mercy, to represents the real church and / or mosque, rather than emphasizing the stone building.
Furthermore, His Beatitude indicated that after 3½ years of devastation and on this blessed Christmas Eve, our love to God, to each other, to this troubled land and to Mosul “Al-Hadba’a” has gathered us here to pray for peace and stability in this ancient city, as is happening in other Iraqi cities and at the region, Especially that 2018 is around the corner and everyone looks forward to having a better and more thriving future.
Patriarch Sako added, that the birth of Christ brought peace, love and worldwide brotherhood. This was summarized in the praise of the angels: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" It is in fact a title for a real, long-term project, personified in Christ and should be embodied in the heart of every human being so that peace prevails in the world. On this occasion, we appeal together to all Mosulian people to raise their voices in order to extinguish the darkness of extremism, discrimination and conflict for replacing it with peace, tolerance, love, freedom, dignity and refinement. This is what these young Muslims have done and we call upon young Christians, Yazidis and other minorities to join them. This diverse solidarity is the hope that will encourage the displaced families to return to Mosul and live peacefully and joyfully.
HB concluded: "This is a delicate and dangerous turning point, so we must think about a new way to solve problems through peaceful dialogue, understanding, respect and solidarity, we should extend our hand to one another and hold onto Mosul, homeland, coexistence and good relations. We have also to renounce extremism, violence, sectarianism, conflict, and avoid surrendering, which means ultimately, handing over our homeland to those who are seeking to sow conflicts.
Finally, I believe we must be moderate, open-minded and return to the institutional, legal and state logic to support, preserve and defend the rights and dignity of all.
We Christians are part of this diverse and beautiful Iraqi fabric and remain connected to our homeland embracing it as witnesses of love, peace, cooperation and prosperity.
I wish for all Iraqis, a blessed year of peace, stability and prosperity.