Iraqi Muslims celebrating Ramadan will have the prayers of Chaldean Catholics, Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako of Babylon has said.

The Chaldean patriarch said that “We as a Church … bind our wishes with yours, expressing our solidarity, sincere feelings, respect and prayers from the bottom of our hearts that God may watch over Iraq and protect Iraqis.”

He said Chaldean Catholics will pray for Muslims so that “your fasting and praying will enlighten and direct the hearts of all Iraqis toward the birth of a new Iraq, in which all its citizens will be treated equally, safeguard their dignity and bring them security and stability.”

Ramadan is a Muslim month of fasting intended to commemorate the revelation of the Quran to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. This year, it lasts from June 5-July 5. It ends with the holiday Eid al-Fitr, which breaks the fast.

The Iraq-based Chaldean Catholic Church has about 500,000 members, and is based in Baghdad. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Chaldeans and others have fled the country.

The patriarch noted the troubled situation in Iraq, where war has killed thousands and displaced millions of people of all religions. The instability has been aggravated by the rise of the Islamic State group.

Patriarch Sako said Ramadan is “an opportunity to practice compassion and charity,” and a privileged time for fasting, prayer, repentance, and a change in mentality to live in peace.

He asked Muslims to make an “exceptional” Ramadan in terms of renouncing “sectarianism and fundamentalism,” building “a culture of reconciliation,” promoting shared values of tolerance and friendship, and endorsing peaceful coexistence, dialogue, and mutual respect.

The patriarch also voiced support for the Iraqi military, in hope that they will soon free Iraqi territory from the Islamic State group.