August 28, 2009
Over the theme â€œKnowledge Is Always an Eventâ€ the organizers of 2009 Rimini Meeting: www.meetingrimini.org, invited Joseph T. Kassab, of the Chaldean Federation of America to participate as a speaker and panelist on issues of persecutedÂ Christians. This meeting is held in Rimini-Italy for one week in the second half of August every year since 1980 with an average attendance of 700,000 people (astonishing 800,000 people attended this year) from all over the world. It is considered one of the leading conferences of encounters and speakers on behalf of people of different beliefs, cultures, and destiny in the conviction that friendship between people can be the beginning of the construction of peace, harmonious coexistence and the common good based on Christian experience.
It is the biggest summer festival of exhibitions, music, and live performance in the world. In addition to Catholics like Jeb Bush and Tony Blair, other prominent guests attended and spoke at this for friendship meeting, which included Papal, European Union, and many Governments representatives, University presidents, Philosophers, Nobel Prize winners, Renowned Scientists and Artists, and Students. Pope John Paul II once visited the meeting, as did then Cardinal Ratzinger (current Pope), Mother Teresa, Dalai Lama, Lech Walesa, Amre Musa, and Ennio Morricone and many other world icons.
The meeting is prepared and meticulously served by over 3100 dedicated college student volunteers impassioned by their Catholic believes stemming from their adoration to the widely spread Communion and Liberation (CL) Catholic lay movement founded in 1950s in Milan-Italy by Reverend Monsignor LUIGI GIUSSANI. The meeting was inaugurated by large mass followed by a special blessing from Pope Benedict XVI.
It was not by chance that at the conclusion of the meeting the â€œPersecuted Christiansâ€ panel was held in order to discuss the fate of the Christians in the Middle East and more specifically the plight of Christians in Iraq. Members of the panel included the following:
- Mario Mauro, Vice President of the European Parliament (EU) and President of the Popolo della Liberta representatives
- Staffan De Mistura, Special Envoy of the United Nations in Iraq and Chair of World Food Program
- Joseph T. Kassab, Executive Director of the Chaldean Federation of America
The panel was moderated by Roberto Fontolan, Director of the International Center of Communion and Liberation.
At the conclusion of the speech, Kassab made a special appeal to the European Community, the Vatican, Italian Government, Humanitarian Agencies, and the International Community to rescue the ancient Christian community of Iraq and not to leave them alone: â€œWe want them to go back to Iraq, The International Community including the government of Iraq must recognize their rights to coexist and to provide them adequate security measures and economic development programs to stay and for those displaced to return, this is their ancestral landâ€. To conclude the session, Kassab recited in Aramaic the Lordâ€™s Prayer for the persecuted church and Christians of Iraq.
Kassab met with many governmental and non-governmental officials who are interested in helping the persecuted Christians of Iraq. It was realized that with sufficient and resourceful coordination with Diaspora organizations and our community leaders in Iraq relief could be a reality. Several Italian and International news agencies highlighted this particular humanitarian plea.