Iraq’s Chamber of Deputies voted on a bill sanctioning Christmas as a “national holiday with an annual frequency” for all citizens. Welcoming the news as a source of great “joy and satisfaction” and confirmation of the importance of “the Christian presence” for the whole country, Chaldean patriarch, Card Louis Raphael Sako explains: “Parliament voted on our request to consider Christmas a holiday for all Iraqis.” And the motion “passed, to our great satisfaction.”
Interviewed by AsiaNews, Msgr Basilio Yaldo, auxiliary of Baghdad and general coordinator of the Iraqi Church Pope Francis’ imminent visit to Iraq, speaks of a “historic vote, because today Christmas is truly a celebration for all Iraqis. And this happens for the first time.”
In the past, he adds, “the government granted Christians a day off, now it applies to everyone and it will be for years to come. It is no longer a temporary measure to be renewed every year. This is a message of great value and great hope for Christians and for all of Iraq and is inevitably linked to the pontiff’s apostolic journey to our country in March. This is one of the first fruits we hope will bring many others in the future.”
On October 17, the Chaldean primate met the President of the Republic Barham Salih. In addition to the situation of Christians, Card Sako had forwarded the “official request” to the head of state to proclaim the birth of Jesus a “holiday for all.” The green light arrived recently is a further recognition for a community victim in recent decades of serious sectarian violence and targeted attacks that have triggered a massive exodus. A flight that reduced the original population of the early 2000s to a third.
“His Beatitude and Eminence – reads a note released by the patriarchate – thanks the President of the Iraqi Republic Barham Salih, for having adopted the request […] to make Christmas (December 25th) a national holiday every year. He also thanks Muhammad al-Halbousi and the parliamentarians for their favourable vote for the good of Christian citizens.” – AsiaNews