ASIA/IRAN - The Chaldean Patriarch visits Tehran: "The Iranian government supports the people and the government of Iraq"

Tehran - The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran "does not hesitate to support the people and the Iraqi government, because the two Countries share the same history and civilization". This is what the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Louis Raphael I says during his visit that began on May 12 in Iran, where the Primate of the Chaldean Church will be staying until next May 22. This was reported by sources of the Chaldean Patriarchate to Agenzia Fides. The Chaldean Patriarch’s visit was motivated by the invitation he and other non-Muslim religious leaders received, from Yonsei Ali - Iranian President in charge of nationalities and religious minorities - and Mohammad Shariamatdari, vice-president of Iran for executive Affairs. The two representatives of the Iranian government and Patriarch Luis Raphael, along with the Chaldean Archbishop of Tehran, Ramzi Garmou, took part in a meeting on Wednesday, May 13 which also saw the participation of a rabbi and representatives of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and the Assyrian Church of the East.
Sheikh Yonsei Ali reiterated that Iran "supports the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of all Countries of the region", today put in danger by "terrorist groups and extremists", and expressed the hope "that the Iraqi people will be able to expel extremist groups and restore security". The Iranian leader also confirmed the intention of his office to promote periodic meetings with representatives of different religious communities. In his speech during the meeting, the Primate of the Chaldean Church contested the operations of propaganda which depict Iran as a narrow-minded and retrograde Country, he recalled the role of the indigenous Christian communities in the building of the civilization of the region and highlighted the "influential role" that Iran could have in support of regional stability also in the field of inter-religious dialogue, to promote coexistence and cooperation between Christians and Muslims and especially the reconciliation between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. Only in this way - said the Patriarch - one can get out of the spiral of wars and conflicts that are bloodying the region and causing sufferings to the peoples. "Christianity", the Patriarch said among other things "is a religion of love, and even Islam is a religion of mercy. God will judge us all on how we were charitable and compassionate with each other". After the meeting Ali Yonsei gave the Patriarch a painting of Mary who holds the Child Jesus in her arms.
The Chaldean Catholics present in Iran today are about 13 thousand, and their pastoral care is entrusted to eight priests, including two of Iranian origin.