Christians in Iraq

Source: FSSPX News


The war in Iraq occupies the front pages of all the newspapers. We cannot remain uninterested, and for two reasons: on the one hand for the country itself and those who live there; on the other hand, because of the consequences of the outcome of this war which involves our future. In fact, a positive end for the United States – which one can hardly doubt – will push even further the march toward an American-style globalism.

All the same, we must be careful, in the criticism of this war, to base our arguments solely on the natural or supernatural law, rather than espousing the conventional ideas and the leftist-pacifist system, which is making significant progress these days. The difference between the Gulf War of 1991 and the one taking place before our eyes should also be noted. In the former war, Iraq had invaded its small neighbor Kuwait. In any case, one observation cannot be overlooked: the varying views of this war have caused a major crack in the western "block".

Out of the 22 million people of Iraq, the Christian community only comprises around 600,000 souls today. It has decreased by 20% since the last gulf war. Nevertheless, it remains the most important among the countries of this area, and above all the freest. This country has been a cradle of culture and the current political regime, whatever one may say, has been without doubt the most tolerable for Christians living in Arab countries.

Two thirds of Iraqi Christians live in Baghdad, where they form 10% of the population. In the region of Mossoul, there are 150,000 Christians, and 50,000 other in Kurdistan, in the region of Dohouk, Zakho and Erbil. Christians play an important role in Iraqi civil society, for they are often considered to be people who are very faithful to their native land. They are respected, for if their proportion is only 3% of the total population, the proportion of Christian doctors, architects and engineers surpasses 20%.

Whether one is Muslim or Christian, this war is a drama for everyone. In the 1970’s, Iraq had attained a level of development that had never before existed in the region, having the highest level of literacy and number of universities. Fr. Yousif Thomas Mirkis, editor-in-chief in Baghdad of the review Al Fikr Al Masihi (Christian Thought), affirms: "I think wanting to strike Iraq, which had almost emerged from underdevelopment, means the weakening of a country which could become a dangerous rival to the West in this region. Unfortunately, the war will set us back 100 years, it’s criminal!" He also points out the dangers of a takeover by Muslims – the experience of Iran has sufficiently shown that Americans leave behind them a wasteland ripe for a takeover by Muslim extremists. "If Islam rules in a country such as ours, it’s very dangerous, as much so for us as for the West. Let’s imagine that in March 1991, the Shiite insurrection in the South of the country had won Baghdad, we would have probably witnessed the restoration of an Islamic republic in Iraq. That would have been a great danger for the entire world. I think the West should be more interested in reconciling with Iraq, for Iraqis are not only a moderate people, but also cultivated and educated. (…) Unfortunately, we are situated over the most important reserve of petroleum in the world, and that’s what interests the United States. The men over this reserve could perish."


And to recall memories of the war of 1991 and of the campaigns of disinformation: "I have lived through 40 days of bombing in Baghdad from the Karrada quarter. It was a deluge of fire and there were many deaths. The cruise missiles had to strike ten times to hit their mark. The other nine times, they destroyed houses, infrastructures, fire stations, water purification plants… The media, among which CNN is the best example, spoke of a "clean" war: they completely misled the world. (…) They only showed part of the reality by painting everything in black-and-white terms. The journalists who came to the sites quickly changed their opinion and became more moderate in their reporting. Several U.N. weapons inspectors also, seeing the reality, protested against their forced departure. Everyone here knows that Bush’s decision, using his anti-terrorist "crusade" as an excuse after September 11, was taken well before the return of the U.N. inspectors. The discussion that took place in the Security Council was only a concession, accorded in a condescending manner to the opponents of the war, but it was just a show, for everything had already been planned for quite some time…"

Fr. Yousif Thomas points out the risk of a serious deterioration of the humanitarian situation: people are exhausted, panicked. It seems that Syria has begun to turn back people who are seeking to cross the border from Iraq. In Baghdad, where nearly half a million Christians live (70% of all Iraqi Christians), the population feels united and in solidarity "beyond confessional differences".

Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Faced with imminent danger, Iraqi Christians have turned toward the Virgin Mary. In a ceremony held in the Chaldean cathedral of St. Joseph in Baghdad, all the Catholic bishops, Chaldean, Latin, Syrian, Armenian, as well as the bishops of the Syriac Orthodox and Assyrian churches consecrated Iraq to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Friday, March 21 at 6 p.m., before the statue of the pilgrim Virgin from France, which had toured various parishes in the Iraqi capital. The Heart of Mary cannot remain indifferent to this gesture; no one doubts that numerous souls will convert. "We have confidence in Mary, for the Christian people of Iraq place their hope in Our Lady: in 1743, faced with an invasion of the Persians, the Christians had prayed with fervor and the scourge was averted…The people remember that event to this day!" emphasized Fr. Yousif Thomas.

In the Documents section, our readers will find an interesting interview by APIC (Catholic International Press Association - French) with the Iraqi ambassador to the Holy See.

Bush disavowed by his own.

In an interview given to Newsweek magazine, Methodist bishop Melvin G. Talbert severely criticized the bellicose politics of the President of the United States, an occasionally practicing Methodist himself. The President has not ceased to invoke religion to justify his war plans and went so far as declaring that he "is praying for peace". No dupe, Melvin Talbert thinks President Bush is pursuing a "clear ideology of domination, which is not found in the teaching of any church". The prelate finds it to be "disturbing that in order to fight a dictator, President Bush is behaving like one himself".