Iraq: Reconsecration of a Church on the Nineveh Plains

Source: FSSPX News

The Chaldean church of St. George of Telskuf in northern Iraq was restored and reconsecrated on December 8, 2017 by Archbishop Bachar Matti Warda of the Chaldean archeparchy of Erbil. 

The church had previously been profaned and partially destroyed by jihadists. On the occasion, the Archbishop said, “Daesh wished to eradicate the Christian presence. But the jihadists are the ones who have left and we have returned,” according to Aid to the Church in Need. Archbishop Warda believes the reopening of the church will encourage Christians to return to Telskuf: “Two thirds of the population have already returned, and this sends a clear signal that the Church too has returned to its normal activities,” he explained. “The church is even more beautiful and glorious than before,” he said.

The building was restored thanks to a 100,000 euro contribution from Aid to the Church in Need as part of its plan of reconstructing the Christian villages of the Nineveh Plains. The latest statistics of Aid to the Church in Need, dated December 5, 2017, show that 6,330 families have returned to their homes. At Telskuf itself, 32 km from Mosul, 67% of the 1,500 families living there when the jihadists arrived in August 2014 have already returned. This is the highest percentage of returning families in the Nineveh Plains area. Such success would have been unimaginable only a year ago, when the village was half destroyed and completely abandoned, Aid to the Church in Need said. St. George’s Church still bore the marks of profanation then, with its headless statue of Our Lady.

Pierre Banon, a student from Paris who returned from an aid mission to Telskuf in August 2017, reported in an interview for Nouvelles de Chrétienté no. 167 (September/October 2017 issue):

We went  south of Telskuf to a village that had been entirely destroyed. Only the church remained standing, because the Kurds had asked for it. It was there that the jihadists took refuge when the liberation army arrived, the place where they had savagely destroyed every Christian symbol, the cross, the altar, the statues… nothing inside was spared. When you enter the church, it is shocking, it makes a real impression. But it is greatly consoling to see that the first thing these Eastern Christians do is to put up a cross and an altar, and to celebrate a Mass of reparation.