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June 28, 2014

Look to your covenant,for the hiding places in the land and the plains are full of violence. May the humble not retire in confusion; may the afflicted and the poor praise your name.

Psalm 74, from the Roman Catholic liturgy for today’s feast

To the Church of Iraq, our Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

During these feast days of remembrance of the great love of Jesus and his mother Mary, who give completely and fully of their hearts in love for their people, we greet you with concern for your safety and peace, and for the healing and restoration of your beloved homeland.

We have heard the news that the situation in Bakhdida is calmer now and we rejoice with you and offer prayers of thanksgiving on your behalf. Yet still, how grieved we are for you and all the people of Iraq who are enduring such violence and instability! Today, with Jesus and Mary, we join our hearts with yours and we pledge our voices to the cause of your safety, liberation from oppression, and safe return to the beauty and consolation of your beloved and ancient home in Nineveh.

We know that our nation bears a special responsibility toward the people of Iraq. As the U. S. Bishops have said, “the US-led invasion and occupation unleashed both sectarian conflicts and extremism in Iraq, two tragic unintended consequences that have profound and continuing repercussions for the people of Iraq.” For this we are profoundly sorry. We pledge our continued solidarity with you and intervention with our governmental leaders on your behalf.

We have heard your voices in the cry of Archbishop Boutrus Moshe, Syriac Catholic Bishop of Bakhdida, when he said “Inaction becomes complicity with crime and abuse of power.” Now, through the example of our Dominican Sister, St. Catherine of Siena we “cry out as if we have a million voices” knowing, as she knew that it is “silence that kills the world.”

We refuse to close our eyes to the suffering of a single brother or sister of ours: every Iraqi citizen, every child, woman and man whose human rights are under attack, who suffer the loss of home, dignity, or life.

We pray and fast,calling upon the love of God the Father, the grace of Jesus His Son and the unity of the Holy Spirit. We join our prayers with yours through the intercession all of the saints in heaven.
We cry out through every means possible to stir the hearts and awaken the consciences of our fellow citizens, bringing to light the grave injustices and terror that you and all of the people of Iraq are enduring.

We advocate on your behalf with the U.S. Government for your protection in the midst of a chaotic and dangerous situation. With the international Dominican community we call upon people of goodwill of all parties to promote inter-community dialogue between Iraqis. We urge our government to engage the regional powers and their allies to achieve a swift and negotiated solution that takes into account the interests and the just demands of communities across the country. And we ask all parties to be especially attentive to the protection of Iraq’s ancient minority cultures.

Our dear brothers and sisters, these efforts of ours pale in comparison to your courage and commitment. Your deep faith and courage in the face of such danger and difficulty are an inspiration to us –we are humbled by your fortitude and the working of God’s grace in you. We value you as our sisters and brothers in faith. Pope St. John Paul II wrote of the relationship between the churches of east and west: “The church must breathe with her two lungs!” (Ut Unum Sint #54). We rejoice that our second lung is breathing a little more easily today. We pray that we will always breathe togetherto share the labor of bringing tobirth the Word made Flesh in our world.

May God bless and keep all of you. May God save Iraq and her people.

Sincerely yours in Christ, Father Chuck Dahm, OP and Sister Marcelline Koch, OP North American Dominican Justice Co-Promoters

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