Posted by Sadie from ? (184.108.40.206) on Saturday, April 12, 2003 at 5:43PM :
Apologies to anyone who may have already posted these. I just thought these were good, because they show that *some* of our priests preach harmony, not hatred.
SYRIAN ORTHODOX PATRIARCH LOSES SLEEP OVER HIS IRAQI FLOCK
Courtesy of Associated Press (18 March); article by Bruce Stanley
(ZNDA: Damascus) As leader of one of the world's oldest Christian sects, Patriarch Zakka Iwas has pursued his calling from Baghdad to New York and back again to the Iraqi capital.
He lives and works now in Damascus, seat of the Syriac Orthodox Church — a 1,500-year old institution that counts thousands of members in the United States. His prayers have focused lately on his hometown, Baghdad, and the 10,000 followers of his church living there.
Candy-red prayer beads clicked in the patriarch's fingers as he spoke of his anxiety about the dangers facing Christians in a war launched by U.S. President George W. Bush against Iraq.
"I'm sick because of it. I sleep only a little, and I'm very worried. I pray that God will have mercy on us and save our people and our country, not only Iraq but the whole area," he said in a recent interview.
Iwas, 69, insists he is no friend of Saddam Hussein. He met the Iraqi President several times while serving as archbishop of Baghdad and Basra. Iwas left Iraq when he became the church patriarch in 1980, one year after Saddam rose to power.
"I am not with the government. I am not with the regime. But I am with the people," he said.
Iwas is suspicious of Washington's motives. Like many in the Middle East, he believes the Bush administration's relentless push to disarm the Iraqi leader is driven by greed for Iraq's oil reserves — the world's second largest — and not by compassion for its people.
"Americans are trying to destroy Iraq, as they did Afghanistan, to get the petroleum and other things. That is clear," he said.
"Is this human rights? What is the business of the United States to move into this country or that country, to remove this or that head of state? Why don't they do that in Israel, to help the Palestinians?"
Iwas, whose official title is Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, draws a sharp distinction between Americans and their government. He spent two formative years studying at the Episcopal Church's General Theological Seminary in downtown Manhattan. He left in 1962 with a love for the people he met there, and a newfound passion for the music of Beethoven and Handel.
Unfortunately, he said, Americans are likely to find themselves reviled in the Middle East because of an Iraq war, particularly if they make no forceful effort to stop Israeli abuses of Palestinian rights.
Iwas spoke with a passion and bluntness that seemed at odds with the conservatism natural for a cleric steeped in ancient tradition. When he conducts services at St. George Cathedral in the oldest, walled section of Damascus, Iwas speaks in Syriac, a modern version of Aramaic — the language Jesus Christ is believed to have spoken. He discusses the medieval Crusades as if they were a recent calamity.
Iwas, a monk, wears a crimson cassock and a matching, fez-like hat. With his white beard and paunch, the outfit gives him the vague look of Santa Claus.
His church, known also as the Syrian Orthodox Church, was founded in the year 452 after a schism with the bulk of the world's Christians. Of its 4 million members, half are descendants of converts in southern India's Kerala state. Others live in Germany, Sweden and in the United States, where immigrants from the Near East introduced the faith in the late 19th century. About 4,000 families worship today at Syriac Orthodox churches in America, with large communities in Los Angeles, Michigan, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
Syria's Christians and Muslims have coexisted peacefully for centuries. Although most Syrians are Muslims, about one-tenth are Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholics, or followers of smaller sects such as the Syriac Orthodox.
"We are very good friends, let me say, brothers," he said of the country's majority Muslims.
BOMBS DAMAGE THE CHALDEAN PATRIARCHATE IN BAGHDAD
Courtesy of Vatican News Agency (23 March)
(ZNDA: Baghdad) Bombs damage the Chaldean Patriarchate in Baghdad, but auxiliary bishop Emmanuel Karim Delly was not wounded by the explosions.
On Saturday, news agencies said that the 75-year old prelate, who has been bishop since 1962, had been wounded by bombs that fell near his residence in the Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans.
"Glass from the windows fell on top of me. But nothing happened to me. The Virgin protected me. I am well," the bishop told the Italian Catholic television channel "Sat2000" on Saturday afternoon.
Monsignor Shlemon Warduni, also an auxiliary bishop of the Chaldean Patriarchate, explained in turn: "There was a bombing next to our Patriarchate. All the windowpanes broke and this is the reason that the rumor spread that Bishop Delly had been wounded. However, as he himself has said, he is well."
Bishop Delly made an appeal to "stop the war, to stop this catastrophe, in which children, young people, elderly people, women, men are lost. Everything is lost with war; much is gained with peace."
"In particular, we ask all families to pray the Rosary, as Pope John Paul II has requested," the bishop concluded.
CHURCHES IN IRAQ PROVIDE SHELTER
Courtesy of Zenit News Agency (19 March)
(ZNDA: Baghdad) Churches in Iraq will stay open for people in need of shelter during bombing, said Latin-rite Archbishop Jean Benjamin Sleiman of Baghdad.
"The churches, however, will stay open, regardless of what happens, to guarantee at any time shelter for all," he said. "The government has given food rations so that, for at least a week or so, there should be no food problems.
"I would like to say to President George W. Bush: 'War also harms the victor; the only possible victory is peace.'"
"In a certain sense, we are all Americans, as we are all citizens of the world," the archbishop added.
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