Over the weekend, the auxiliary from Baghdad celebrated the first communions of 210 boys and girls. A moment of deeply felt celebration, after months of closures and restrictions for the new coronavirus. The catechism, trips and community meetings explore the legacy of the pontiff’s visit. A large gathering of young Chaldeans from all over the country is being studied.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) – After the dark years of sectarian violence and the, still ongoing but “improving” situation in the Covid-19 pandemic, the Iraqi Church “wants to start again with young people and Pope Francis’ visit, a moment of celebration that continues to bear fruit “.
Msgr. Basilio Yaldo, auxiliary of Baghdad and close collaborator of the Chaldean patriarch Louis Raphael Sako speaks to AsiaNews of the atmosphere of celebration last weekend “for first communions celebrated with over 200 young people from the diocese of the capital”.
“We are optimistic, especially in Baghdad – says the prelate – the heart of the country from which to build the future”.
On 6 June, Msgr. Yaldo presided over the Mass with the first communions for 210 boys and girls of the capital. A moment of celebration, with the church full of family members and faithful while respecting – the patriarchate is keen to specify – all the safety rules to prevent coronavirus outbreaks. Because “the situation has improved a lot, especially in Baghdad” confirms the prelate, but “attention must remain high, while the vaccination campaign that we strongly support continues throughout the country”.
The Baghdad auxiliary continues “For some time we have begun to reopen the churches after the closures imposed by the health authorities. Many activities have restarted such as catechism, youth meetings, masses, to give hope after past sufferings. We want to reopen, celebrate, meet. In fact, as a diocese we are working on a general gathering of young people scheduled for next month: a moment of prayer, celebration and reflection on the Pope’s visit, this will be the theme on which we focus most attention. An extraordinary event that we must keep alive and whose teachings we must put into practice, renewing the message of hope for Christians in Iraq and throughout the Middle East”.
Msgr. Yaldo says “the children were very happy, especially for the presence of their families who shared in the ceremony and the moment of community celebration that followed.”
“The words of one child from the parish of St. Thomas in Baghdad struck me very much – confides the prelate. When I asked him what communion means to him, he replied that it means ‘keeping Jesus alive in my heart, in my Church and in my homeland’. Words that really filled me with joy”.
“The reopening of the churches – he continues – is also a sign of hope that we want to give to our people, because we are a living and strong community as emerges from the many activities we are preparing. In addition to the catechism, last week the trips with a group of young people who went to a tourist spot in the capital, the island of Baghdad, started again. We want to resume the pilgrimages, from Ur to the plain of Nineveh, in the north, to visit the ancient churches and monasteries”.
The apostolic journey, the decline in Covid infections, the political elections in October are steps towards a positive change in society and in the country, at a time when Christians “are increasingly recognized and can find more space”.
“From this point of view – continues the bishop – the Pope’s visit proved to be fundamental. Christians, slowly, are emerging from the darkness, from the caves, to acquire ever greater visibility. And as a Church we insist on the role of young people, which is why in addition to the Synod in August and the meeting in the capital next month, by the end of the year we want to organize a great event that brings together all the young Chaldeans of the country “from north to south, from Mosul to Basra, passing through the capital.