Former Iraqi MP Sliwa calls for Christian clerics to discuss with Pope possibility of unifying holidays and naming conventions

ANKAWA, Iraq — In a statement posted to Facebook, former Syriac Member of Iraqi Parliament Joseph Sliwa called on the clerics of the Syriac churches in Beth Nahrin (Mesopotamia) to discuss with visiting Pope Francis the possibility of uniting fasting, holidays, and church names.

“To the clerics of Christian churches in Beth Nahrin who express their love for the coming of His Holiness the Pope to their country, we call you to discuss with Pope Francis and unite the feasts and the names of your churches to make the Church of Christ one,” wrote Sliwa.

“Arrange your house before you arrange with your neighbors, otherwise we will remain divided and the other will continue to divide us to uprooted us from the land of our fathers and grandfathers.”

The Suraye people in Iraq were among the first Arameans-Assyrians-Chaldeans to embrace Christianity. Before the toppling of Iraq’s Arab nationalist Ba’ath Party in 2003 and the unfortunately unsuccessful attempt by the United States to bring democracy to Iraq, there were an estimated 1.5 million Suraye in Iraq. This number has dwindled to an estimated 350-400 thousand today. The biggest Syriac churches in Iraq are the Syriac Chaldean Catholic Church, the Syriac Catholic Church and the Syriac Orthodox Church. The number of Syriac Mandeans who once numbered 60-70 thousand in Iraq has dramatically decreased to lower than 5 thousand.