The delegation of Catholic Bishops headed by Rai meets with President of Iraqi Kurdistan Masoud Barzani in Irbil, Wednesday, August 20, 2014. (The Daily Star/Bkirki website, HO)
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Visiting the Kurdish capital Irbil, Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai called Wednesday on the international community to help Iraq's minorities, asking the country's Christians to stick to their roots and not leave the country.The patriarch identified three goals for the trip: first, to express solidarity with persecuted Christians in Iraq; second, to meet with Vatican officials; and third, to ask the international community to take responsibility and put a stop to ISIS.The National News Agency reported that Rai received a promise from the Kurdish authorities that Christians would be protected "until the last drop of blood". The delegation, which includes Greek Melkite Patriarch Gregory III Lahham, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Joseph Younan and Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Ephrem, left the airport directly for the Chaldean Catholic Church, which is housing Christian refugees. Speaking at Beirut's airport before the trip, Rai strongly criticized superpowers and Arab countries for failing to support Iraqi Christians fleeing their ancestral homes.
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