Tags: Christians | Muslim | Leaders | Iraq | Attend | Pope | Mass

Christians, Muslim Leaders in Iraq Attend Pope Mass

Friday, 08 April 2005 12:00 AM

Bishop Andreas praised the late pontiff as a man of peace and an inspiration to millions of people around the world.

The Chaldean patriarch of Iraq, Immanuel Delli, noted that the pope several years ago planned to visit Iraq, the birthplace of the Prophet Abraham, as part of his pilgrimage to the Middle East. But he said the visit was canceled because of the international confrontation with then-president Saddam Hussein.

Patriarch Immanuel said the pope loved Iraq and Iraqis and he always prayed for us. Now, he said, we are praying for him.

Christians in Iraq number less than one million people, or five percent of the population. Historically, they have lived peacefully with the other religions.

However, their community has not been spared the fallout from the recent war that ousted Saddam Hussein. St. Joseph's Cathedral was one of five churches that were bombed six months ago by unknown attackers. Scores of security officers were on duty during Thursday's Mass.

The Mass was also attended by a half-dozen Muslim clerics representing Iraq's senior Muslim leadership. One of these, Saed Hadi Jazaari, said the imams came to offer condolences to their Christian brothers over the death of a great pope.

He said the pope, for Muslims, represented peace, peaceful dialogue between civilizations and between the religions.

Bishop Abouna said the presence of the Muslim clerics was evidence of ancient ties that go back to the era of the Prophet Mohammed.

"We have great and very wonderful relations with the Muslims and not only from now, from the past," said Bishop Abouna. "Christian history is very deep in Iraq and relations [with Muslims] are deep, same as the religion."

The ceremony ended with the celebration of communion and recitations from the ancient Chaldean liturgy.

Then as mourners filed out into the setting sun, the priests embraced their Muslim guests, exchanging blessings.

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Bishop Andreas praised the late pontiff as a man of peace and an inspiration to millions of people around the world. The Chaldean patriarch of Iraq, Immanuel Delli, noted that the pope several years ago planned to visit Iraq, the birthplace of the Prophet Abraham, as part...
Christians,,Muslim,Leaders,Iraq,Attend,Pope,Mass
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2005-00-08
Friday, 08 April 2005 12:00 AM
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