Christianity in Iraq Could Become Mere ‘Symbolic Presence’

Louis Sako, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon
Louis Sako, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon

Leaders of Catholic churches in Iraq have flown to Europe to report on the Iraqi crisis, to try to find solutions for the country’s rapidly declining number of Christians. Their visit came amid reports that two nuns in Mosul, accompanied by two women and a boy, have been unaccounted for since Jun. 28.

They are believed to have been kidnapped by militants of the radical jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. More recently, the group has taken to calling itself the Islamic State, or IS.

On July 9, the Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Louis Raphael Sako of Baghdad, Archbishop Yohanna Petros Mouche of Mosul, and Bishop Youssif Mirkis of Kirkuk in Kurdish-controlled Iraq, held meetings in Brussels with high-level representatives of EU institutions and NATO. They discussed the situation and prospects for Christians in Iraq since the invasion of Mosul by IS last month and of the Ninevah Plains to the north, where there has been a high concentration of Christians. Many of the Christians had earlier fled Baghdad and other southern cities for the relative safety of the north. The Brussels meetings were organized by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

The IS invasion has triggered a flood of Christians from the south of Iraq into the Kurdish-governed north-east, as well as neighboring countries. Christian leaders are concerned that the 2,000-year presence of Christianity in Iraq will become merely symbolic as the community flees the jihadist militants who continue to bring disorder and instability in Iraq.

A decade ago, around 2003, Iraq was home to 1.5 million Christians. After years of war and sectarian violence only about 400,000 are said to remain, and that number is now dropping rapidly.

“The next days will be very bad. If the situation does not change, Christians will be left with just a symbolic presence in Iraq,” Reuters quoted Sako as saying during the Brussels meetings. “If they leave, their history is finished.”

(Read HERE the rest of the article.)

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

3 thoughts on “Christianity in Iraq Could Become Mere ‘Symbolic Presence’”

  1. Trist de tot; mi-a spus asta si vecinul meu care este caldean, intro conversatie despre Iraq, pe vremea raposatului lor, toti puteau trai in liniste. Locurile de bastina ale lui Avraam; popoare care din primele secole aveau scoli, biblioteci, sali de judecata, gradini, cladiri multi etaje, canalizare urbana, carti scrise precum “Placa de temelie a lui Anjpada, este o placa de marmura de 7-10 cm. A fost gasita de Woolley (1923) langa o piatra unghiulara a templului din Obeid, la 7 km vest de Ur.Poarta urmatoarea inscriptie: “Anipada, rege al Urului, fiul lui Mesanipada, a zidit aceasta in cinstea doamnei lui, Nin-Karsag” (Zeita-mama).” a fost proclamata drept cel mai vechi document istoric gasit vreodata. Manual Biblic, Henry H. Halley.

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    1. Da, e tragic. Dar nu chiar toti au trait bine pe vremea raposatului lor. E-adevarat ca regimurile socialiste mai laicizate au ingaduit crestinilor sa traisca spre deosebire de regimurile teocratice. Dar vremurile au fost altele; fundamentalismul Islamic era marginalizat. Acum a rabufnit peste tot unde a ajuns libertatea. Dar nu putem vorbi despre asta ca suntem islamofobi. Biserica noastra s-a implicat in acomodarea in USA a 150 irachieni, majoritatea caldeieni. Dar si musulmani. Am auzit de la ei horror stories. Unii au primit 30 min ca sa paraseasca casa altfel o arunca in aer; la mijloc era si invidia si dorinta de-a lua proprietatile crestinilor care erau respectati ca mai educati si mai afluenti financiar (drept e ca vindeau si lucruri deocheate care idica problem vs. crestinatatea lor; dar suferinta lor e prea mare ca sa trecem la detalii). Un antrenor de fotbal tinar (asirian orthodox) era fericit desi parasise casa cu 2 etaje. “Copii sunt in siguranta aici, in uSA”- mi-a spus el. Am gasit o femie “pierduta”; se uita pe pereti. Sotul si baiatul au fost omoriti in fata ei. Ea si fetitele au fost lasate in viata. Tinarul H. a fost 14 ani in inchisoare; era catholic. Fusese luat prizonier de iranieni care l-au tinut inchis pina dupa ultimul razboi din Golf. De plictiseala a invatat engleza de la un medic coleg de celula. Acum ii foloseste, fiind in USA. Dar problemele lor continua si in USA. Am vazut barbat crestinat si nevasta divortind de el -aici in USA- pt ca el s-a crestinat. Dinsul pretinde ca fusese judecator la curtea suprema din Irac. Nevestei nu i-a pasat si l-a lasat cu copii cu tot. Mai des am vazut convertiri ale nevestelor urmate de divorturi ale sotilor… Ca dovada ca nu numai sistemul e de vina. Un cuplu tinar s-a casatorit pe furis sa n-auda neamurile (desi in USA). Motivul? Se casatorisera catholic desi fusesera musulmani. Sunitii sunt mai deschisi decit siitii. Mai e un lucru. E greu de verificat ce spun ei pt ca neamurile astea din Orient mint de-ngheata Eufratul Din pacate, aici nu se deosebesc unii de altii desi atit Dumnezeu cit si Allah condamna minciuna. Am botezat (la baptisti) o singura refugiata din Irac. Dinsa intr-adevar se convertise. Dovada? O dadusera afara de la televiziunea araba locala desi era foarte frumoasa. Motivul? N-a vrut sa minta! Oricum, tragedia e mare. Citeodata te intrebi ca si Dobson, “What in the world is God doing?”. El sa aiba mila de fratii nostrii din Irac (si Siria, Egipt, Libia, Iran, etc).

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      1. Da, traim vremuri teribile. Am intilnit si eu in Liban, in vremea lui Sadam, lideri ai bisericilor din Iraq, care vorbeau despre el ca patriarhul ortodox sau presedintele baptist despre Ceausescu. Te apuca greata. Acum a venit plata. Asa cum din pacate, platesc acum si crestinii sirieni pentru apropierea toxica de Assad, si inchiderea ochilor la dictatura si crimele lui.
        Din pacate, asa cum spuneati, ceea ce aduce libertatea, cel putin deocamdata, este un ‘mai rau’, ma degraba decit un ‘mai bine’. Se vede ca lucreaza in spatele acestor lucruri un soi de sens al istoriei pe care noi nu reusim sa-l percepem. De aceea spunem, kyrie eleison – Doamne, ai mila.

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