The Iraqi Parliament has decided to make Christmas a public holiday throughout Iraqi territory, and in perpetuity. A decision that comes about ten days after the Holy See announced the first historic visit of a pope to the country, scheduled for March 2021.
The news happened on December 16, 2020: unanimously, the deputies forming the Iraqi Parliament have decided to enshrine in the stone of the law, the holiday character of the feast of Christmas for the whole country. A first in a predominantly Muslim country.
Immediately after hearing the news, Msg. Louis Raphaël Ier Sako, Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon, publicly thanked the President of the Republic, Barham Salih, the Speaker of Parliament, Muhammad al Halbousi, and all parliamentarians “for the vote cast for the good of their Christians compatriots,” imploring the blessings of God upon them.
The Fides agency reports that the government was able, in some years, to vote in an amendment decreeing Christmas as a public holiday - as was the case in 2019, as FSSPX.News reported it at the time - but this provision had only been applied in the province of Kirkuk: henceforth, it will apply to the whole country, and in perpetuity.
The Parliament’s vote originates from a request presented by Cardinal Sako to the Iraqi President on October 17: on this occasion, receiving the Chaldean Patriarch at his residence, Barham Salih underlined the role of Christian communities in the reconstruction of the country, after years of jihadist occupation of Mosul and parts of northern Iraq.
The Head of State also took the opportunity to reiterate his commitment to promote, by all means, the return of displaced Christians to their territories of origin, starting with Mosul and the Nineveh Plain which were abandoned during the years of terror by the Islamic State (IS). The decision of the Chamber of Deputies comes about ten days after the Vatican announced the Holy Father’s coming visit to Iraq, to take place March 5 to 8, 2021.
An apostolic journey in which the Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon sees “an opportunity for great conversion, so that faith and hope become a real commitment in us.”
Unfortunately, the frenzied ecumenism since Vatican II, as well as the document on the Human Fraternity, does not go in the direction of Muslim conversion.