With Saddam's Capture, "Fear Has Ended" in Iraq

Chaldean Bishops Voice Hopes for Country's Future

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BAGHDAD, Iraq, DEC. 15, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Iraqi population was surprised and relieved to learn about the capture of Saddam Hussein, say the country's two Chaldean Catholic bishops.



"At last fear is removed -- all the weight we carried on our backs, all the dead and the killings," as well as the "suspicion that there still were spies, that Saddam would reappear," said Bishop Rabban Al-Qas of the Diocese of Amadiyah, according to AsiaNews.it.

With the arrest of the former Iraqi leader, "fear has ended," Bishop Al-Qas said. "The snake's head has been crushed and the regime has really ended. … For us in Iraq, the period of reconstruction really begins."

Under the dictatorial regime of Saddam, the "Church and people have suffered together," Bishop Al-Qas explained. We "have all been persecuted: Christians, Shiites, Arabs, Kurds, Syro-Chaldeans. All the people have suffered very much. Now, all of them hope for a more secure and stable future."

"As bishop, I say that it is just that [Saddam] should be prosecuted by an Iraqi court," without forgetting "that he always has a dignity that must be respected," the prelate added.

"But it is necessary that he confess his crimes, the millions of people he has killed or ordered to be killed," he added. "Christian forgiveness also implies confession and expiation."

For his part, Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad told Vatican Radio that the arrest of the former Iraqi dictator had "been a surprise for all."

His capture "is good news for all the Iraqi people," he said. "It was said and it was feared that many terrorist actions came" from Saddam, a "person thirsty for power."

"There are many terrorist sources; there is not just one source," hence the need for "cooperation among all to bring back peace and tranquility" to Iraq, beginning by "guarding the borders" given the possible "infiltration of terrorists," Bishop Warduni said.

"I think that in Iraq there are many intelligent people, also political, and undoubtedly personalities will arise capable of directing the country without taking recourse to a dictatorship," the bishop said.