Iraqi Church leader: terrorism is a 'factory of death'

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Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako of Baghdad has hit out at terrorists who he says are returning humanity to primitivism and at arms manufacturers who he says are helping to kill innocent people.

In a wide-ranging interview with Zenit news service at Rome's Padre Pio Hospital, Patriarch Sako attacks the Italian arms industry, saying: "Italy is a country of saints, it is the place in the world with the most saints, it's a holy land, but why does it continue to manufacture arms, which then serve to kill innocent people? Why not manufacture good things so that one can sleep in peace with one's conscience, in harmony with oneself?" Italy could be an "example to the world" in redirecting its manufacturing, he said.

He said that the scale of evil in the world today was a sign of human regression. Speaking of the destruction of a fifth-century monastery near Mosul, he said that the attackers were "people who live in the desert, not understood, however, as a place in which to encounter God in silence, but in the sense of the brutalisation and barbarisation they seem to have reached".

He continued: "We must note the fact that the desert is advancing, not in the geographic sense. Today we are returning to the desert, namely, to primitive nature." Terrorists, he said, had "no human sense" but were a "factory of death".

The Patriarch expressed pessimism about the long-running conflict against Islamic State.

"I don't see a close end to this conflict and also for the suffering of my people, of so many families, women and children," he said. "It distresses me also to see these young Shiites and also Sunnis going to die for no purpose. I call for a diplomatic political solution instead of military action. If this massacre isn't stopped there will be many other destructions."

He also reflected on a post-conflict situation, when Iraq would be faced with the task of rebuilding not just an infrastructure in ruins but a shattered society.

"I wonder if we will be able to repair all this when peace returns. There are churches with 'old' stones that speak of the centuries-old history of our Christianity. A new and modern stone will be able to say little."