Greeting of Cardinal Koch to His Holiness Mar Awa III

Erbil, 13 September 2021


[Reading the Message of the Holy Father]

To these words of His Holiness Pope Francis, allow me to add some of my own personal thoughts on this momentous day in the life of the Assyrian Church of the East.

It is a deep spiritual joy for me to participate in the celebration of your enthronement, Your Holiness, and to express through my presence the closeness of Pope Francis to Your Holiness, to your Church and to all Christians in Iraq, a country very dear to the heart of the Holy Father, who accomplished only some months ago for the first time in history a visit of a Bishop of Rome to Mesopotamia. It is in this land that the Assyrian Church of the East has its roots, and the return of its See to Iraq accomplished by your predecessor Mar Gewargis III marked a courageous milestone in its history.

Thanks to your venerable predecessors, relations between our two Churches have flourished and Your Holiness has been closely involved in this rapprochement, particularly in the theological dialogue in which you have participated. The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity looks forward to taking further steps both in the theological and pastoral spheres along the way towards unity that is neither absorption nor fusion, but communion in truth and love.

As a pledge, I joyfully offer Your Holiness the Holy Father’s gift of a chalice, in the hope that on the day when God will grant, we shall stand together at the altar of sacrifice in the fullness of Eucharistic communion.