Iraq : Silence regarding the murder of Christians

Source: FSSPX News

A catholic church destroyed in Bagdad

"We must break the wall of silence concerning the murder of Christians in Mosul and in Iraq," declared Archbishop Jean Benjamin Sleiman. Interviewed on January 20 by the Italian Catholic press agency SIR, the Latin-Rite Catholic Archbishop of Bagdad said he is afraid of a "new exodus", because in the parishes fear is increasing and people are preparing to flee. In recent days, he recalls, several Christians have been murdered in the city of Mosul, in the north of Iraq. The residents speak about a persecution that is taking place in the midst of general indifference, and even about "ethnic cleansing".

"Christians are wondering what will become of them in a country which has adopted Islam as the state religion," the Bishop of Kirkuk, The Most Reverend Louis Sako, told the Swiss daily 24 heures on February 10. "For many Christians, this is no longer their country.... Christians, however, have been present in Iraq since the end of the first century," he noted.

Despite the violence, regular contacts with Muslim authorities have been maintained: "There are sincere people who seem very touched by the fate of the Christians. But sometimes we get the feeling that there's a double standard. It's connected with the Koran, which presents Christians in two different ways. In the passages about the life of the prophet in Mecca, Christians are praised to the skies. But after his Hegira, his flight to Medina, Christians are considered pagans who adore three gods. This refers to the sect of the Nazarenes or Ebionites. But our Catholic Faith has nothing to do with all that. We are not polytheistic infidels!"

"The state does nothing," Bishop Sleiman declared, for his part. The prelate deplored the fact that “The local forces stationed in the places where these attacks and murders occur see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing!" This conspiracy of silence is also fueled by the media, which, with one or two exceptions, do not report on attacks targeting Christians.

Since last December approximately ten Christians have been murdered in Mosul, churches and Christian institutions have been bombed, a female Christian student was kidnapped, and a bomb destroyed a bus that was transporting Christian students to school—not to mention the attacks against private homes belonging to Christians.

It is estimated that since the American invasion in 2003 a total of more than 60% of the Christians have fled the country.  Less than 300,000 are said to remain, chiefly in the autonomous region of Kurdistan.  (Sources:  APIC/www.24heures.ch)

The Vatican’s reaction:  Promote dialogue

Officials at the Vatican deplore the fact that international policy-makers take no notice of the persecution of the Christians in Iraq.  Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, presented to the press the initial working document—the Lineamenta—for the upcoming Synod for the Middle East, which will be held from October 10 to 24 in Rome.  He deemed it “essential” that the Christians not leave the Middle East.  “Christians and Muslims together can contribute to [a greater] respect for justice, economic development, the protection of creation [i.e. the environment] and of life, which are part of human rights,” Bishop Eterovic said.  He added that in order to improve the situation we must do more to promote dialogue, so as to become better acquainted also.  “More than freedom of worship, we want religious freedom, freedom of conscience,” he declared, adding then that religious freedom is important not only for Christians but also for Muslims.  – No doubt he will be understood perfectly!  (Source:  APIC)

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