Bashara Butris al-Ra’ei, Lebanon’s Maronite patriarch, commemorated the anniversary of the 2010 Baghdad church attack with Christian and Muslim Iraqis in Baghdad.
Ra’ei’s visit, which was called historical, was made in spirit to show solidarity to all Iraqis regardless of background or religion.
“My visit is to support all Iraqis; I believe in Iraq and in each of the Arab countries,” he said. “I came as a patriarch to tell Iraqis that we are all in solidarity with them, and in their issues, concerns and their livelihood.”
In 2010, an attack on the Our Lady of Salvation Syriac Catholic cathedral of Baghdad left at least 58 people dead, after more than 100 had been taken hostage.
The al-Qaeda-linked Sunni insurgent group the Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack.
In the church, which still has bullet holes in its walls, the Iraqi Father Karam Kamal spoke and described the patriarch’s visit as representative of Lebanon’s solidarity with Iraq.
“I wish that peace would come to Iraq, and I wish that our people and friends who fled the country could return home again or even come to northern Iraq,” an Iraq Christian girl told Al Arabiya TV.
Iraqi Muslims, who have long attended churches to light candles and share prayers with their Christian counterparts, attended the mass commemorating the anniversary of the massacre.