VATICAN CITY (CNS) — So-called “Christian” militias contradict the Christian approach of love, tolerance and peace, said the Chaldean Catholic Church.
Individual Christians who wish to help defend and maintain security in Iraq can best do so by enlisting with the country’s official army or joining the federal police force, said a statement from the Chaldean patriarchate, headed by Cardinal Louis Sako, in Baghdad.
Individuals who live in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq could join its local Peshmerga forces, said the statement, signed by the cardinal.
“We respect individual decisions” to join Iraq’s state-sponsored coalition of some 40 different militias called the Popular Mobilization Forces “or to get involved in politics, but not to form a Christian ‘brigade,'” it said, “since forming a Christian armed militia contradicts the Christian spirituality that calls for love, tolerance, forgiveness and peace.”
The patriarchate sent the official announcement to the Vatican news agency, Fides, and the Rome-based missionary news agency, AsiaNews, which both published reports about the statement July 25.
The statement expressed full support for a decree Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi issued July 1. The decree gave a July 31 deadline to all militias in the country to operate fully within the nation’s armed forces and be subject to its regulations. The armed groups already answer to the prime minister, who is commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces.
The militias assisted the Iraqi- and U.S.-led coalition in pushing out the Islamic State group. But the new decree mandates each militia group to choose to fully integrate with the military and no longer be a political organization or to remain a political entity and unarm themselves; groups will no longer be allowed to operate as both a political and paramilitary body.
The Chaldean patriarchate said it supported the decree, saying it was “an important step in the right direction.”
“This decree would limit the weapons to the state, strengthen its institutions and reinforce national awareness among Iraqis, in terms of their national identity,” it said. It should also help “solidify the pillars of a strong government of law, citizenship and equality,” it added.
“From our side, we are officially announcing our ‘refusal’ of the presence of any Iraqi armed movement” that uses the term “Christian” as part of its name or description, said the statement, which included urging people to not form or join a so-called “Christian ‘brigade.'”
Fides said the patriarchate seemed to be referring specifically to the Babylonian Brigade — a self-styled Christian militia, which was part of the Popular Mobilization Forces seeking to drive out occupying Islamic State fighters and reclaim their homeland. The armed group is also a political movement, headed by Rayan al-Kildani, who now faces U.S. sanctions for human rights abuses.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103