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Iraqi bishop tells US troops: Help us but leave quickly

An Iraqi archbishop said his advice to US troops is to leave the country as soon as they can help Iraqis form their own government.

Another Iraqi prelate, meanwhile, denied that the Chaldean Catholic Church was involved in the surrender to US forces of Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi deputy prime minister and the leading Christian in Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime.

Speaking at a meeting in the Italian city of Rimini on Saturday, Archbishop Jules Mikhail al-Jamil, the Rome-based leader of Iraq's Syrian-rite community in Europe, said a change for the better was long needed in Iraq.

"What is my advice to the Americans? To leave quickly, without staying too long in Iraq. They should help the Iraqis to establish a government that will act in an autonomous way, not directed by others," he told the Italian news agency ANSA.

The archbishop said he was concerned with the emergence of radical Islamic currents in Iraq, but he said he was convinced that Iraqis were "intelligent enough to form a government in harmony with their religious convictions."

Meanwhile, Caritas Internationalis reports that Basrah's Chaldean Archbishop Gabriel Kessab stressed to the AFP news agency that relations between the Church and Muslims Basrah and elsewhere in Iraq are excellent.

Bishop Kessab said that he wants to continue to cooperate with the Muslims in the future and that the relations between the two faiths must be strengthened daily.

AFP also reported that the Bishop kept his distance to the British troops in control of Basrah to avoid to be seen as too close with the coalition forces.

Catholic News Service/Caritas Internationalis

Baghdad bishop defends captured Aziz (28/4/03)
Caritas Moving Ahead on Humanitarian Relief in Iraq (Zenit)
Iraq: [US Dominican sister says] Christians Must Overcome Negative Effects of Allied Invasion on Iraqi People (Vidimus Dominum)
Archbishop Jules Mikhael Al-Jamil (

30 Apr 2003