Mosul (AsiaNews): Pope Francis' appeal for Iraq "will have a big effect on all of us," in particular "on Christians who are living through a period of great difficulty" and, more generally, for all those who are suffering and praying for peace," said Mgr Shimoun Emil Nona, Chaldean archbishop of Mosul (northern Iraq), who spoke to AsiaNews, about the humanitarian, as well as economic and political, crisis that his engulfed his city after a half a million people, Muslims and Christians, fled.
Yesterday, during the Angelus, the Argentine pontiff said that he was following events in Iraq with "deep concern" asking for prayers "for the dear nation of Iraq, especially for the victims and for those who suffer most from the consequences of the rising wave of violence, especially for the many people, including many Christians, who have had to leave their homes.
However, the pope's words of reconciliation are being drowned out by news stories from the Arab country about the escalating violence and hundreds of summary executions perpetrated by the Islamists.
Meanwhile, the United States is mulling over direct talks with its historic foe Iran to discuss the issue of security in Iraq. Both nations want to end the threat posed by the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (A jihadist group linked to al-Qaeda) that has taken over large portions of the country with a goal of moving towards Baghdad.
The archbishop of Mosul hopes that government leaders and the international community will "find an urgent solution" to the crisis, so that "Iraq does not become like Syria," where a civil war "is now considered normal and accepted."
War and violence are not and can never be considered "normal," the prelate told AsiaNews. "Unfortunately," he warns, "no one has actual solutions nor proposes concrete steps to restore peace. There is no real common interest for the good of the country and its citizens."
Mgr Nona said, he had been hoping to hear Pope Francis send a strong signal. The pontiff has always been close to crises and conflicts that involve bloodshed. Yesterday, he spoke out for the "dear nation of Iraq", describing a future in which citizens of all religions could make their homeland a "model of coexistence."
The Archbishop of Mosul hopes that these words "will have a great impact on the hearts of all those who use violence as a means to address and solve problems". In reality, violence does not solve anything, but "always creates new barriers and divisions". In its place, "let us hope that people can talk and communicate using the language of peace."
Although the internet is blocked in many areas of the country and TV channels are often blocked, more and more pictures are circulating about mass murders and summary executions by Islamists.
"Unfortunately, not everyone hears the words of peace," Mgr Nona said. "The situation is becoming more difficult every day. Islamists attack, the government tries to respond, and the logic of violence wins every time."
The situation of displaced persons is also raising concerns, the archbishop of Mosul noted. Their numbers keep on growing because of fear of bombing by the Iraqi air force.
"Nobody knows what will happen. In addition to the insecurity, we are living in complete uncertainty, and the future looks dark. No political proposals to solve the crisis are visible. The last election (in late April) have all but been forgotten and now everything is about the war."
At the end, the prelate appeals for prayer and support for the displaced. "Yesterday we welcomed other families, mostly Muslim. Some NGOs have started to bring help. We as the Church have been trying to coordinate and provide aid since the beginning, but the situation is ever more critical."