Churches in Iraq commit to reconciliation and rebuilding

By agency reporter
February 18, 2009

Representatives of churches in Iraq have confirmed their commitment to work together with all Iraqi citizens for reconciliation and rebuilding peace in the country in the wake of the recent elections there.

"The solution to current conditions lies not in emptying Iraq of its human resources," said the participants at a 10-11 2009 February meeting in Dar Sayedat Al Jabal, Fatka, Lebanon, papers from which have just been released to the media.

The meeting was organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC).

Some 12 representatives of Iraqi churches attended the gathering, which addressed the challenges facing Christians in Iraq today, particularly issues of safety and security as well as forced migration. They affirmed the status of Iraqi Christians as "authentic children of [the] land," emphasizing the values of equal citizenship and constructive co-existence.

"Christians have belonged to Iraq since the nation's birth," and as "an essential part of Iraqi society […] deeply rooted in its history and civilization," they "have the right to live freely" in the country, enjoying "equal rights and responsibilities along with all other citizens," they said.

Participants in the meeting, some of whom went through the experience of being kidnapped in Iraq, called upon Iraqi Christians "to stay in their homeland and participate actively in its rebuilding and development". Iraqi Christians have a role "in building educational and social institutions that contribute to national reconciliation, peace building and stability," they said.

The gathering also called on Western churches "not to encourage migration and resettlement programs for refugees outside Iraq," but rather to "focus their efforts on bringing back security and stability inside Iraq for all Iraqis," with the aim of enabling Iraqis to "work together, healing wounds and building a better future".

Participants at the meeting emphasized the importance of continued dialogue "among Christians and their Muslim brothers and sisters." They pledged to establish an "ecumenical forum" in order to allow "all Iraqi church leaders […] to speak in a common voice to religious and political authorities inside and outside Iraq".

The full text of the statement of Iraqi church representatives can be found here:

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