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Time is running out for Iraq’s Christians, says archbishop

By on Friday, 18 March 2011

Iraqi Archbishop Bashar Warda pictured at the press conference in London (Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

Iraqi Archbishop Bashar Warda pictured at the press conference in London (Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

Iraq’s ancient Christian community has run out of time and will disappear soon, a senior Iraqi churchman has said.

Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil made his alarming prediction at a press conference for the launch of the Aid to the Church in Need report on oppressed Christians abroad, Persecuted and Forgotten?

Speaking in Westminster yesterday, alongside Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop Warda said that there were fewer than 200,000 Christians left in Iraq and “the time for waiting” was running out.

Declaring that figure to be “optimistic”, he said: “From what we have seen so far our people have lost patience. The past is terrifying, the present is not promising. All is left is the very limited choice of emigration, to Jordan and Turkey.”

He cited Mosul, one of the most dangerous cities in the world to be a Christian, where hundreds were driven out in October 2009, saying: “In 2003 there were 4,000 Chaldean families, 1,000 Christians from other churches, and 11 active Chaldean churches. Now six churches have been closed, and if it goes this way, it won’t be this long before certain areas of Iraq are evacuated.

“We have freedom of worship, but not freedom of religion, that is not allowed, in any Islamic state.”

The 41-year-old archbishop was previously rector of St Peter’s Chaldean Catholic Seminary in Dora, a Christian neighbourhood of Baghdad before the 2003 invasion. The seminary had to move to Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, last year due to violence. Islamists have cleansed Dora almost entirely of Christians. The archbishop plans to build a Catholic University and Church-run hospital in Erbil, which will be open to all.

He described how many Christians in Baghdad and Mosul had received warnings through text messages or bullets, sometimes delivered by policemen. Some clerics received three bullets, one representing murdered priest Fr Ragheed Ganni, another for the murdered Archbishop Rahho, and another for the intended victim.

He said that, although Christians were safer in the Kurdish-controlled regions of northern Iraq, they still lacked economic security and were so impoverished some had resorted to prostitution. Some 5,000 Christian families had fled to the Kurdish-controlled region and yet, he said, the Iraqi Government cared so little for them that they had demanded European governments paid for their resettlement.

“It was a strange statement,” he said of the Government’s demand: “They are not some group who have emigrated from Europe. They do not come from Europe!”

Aid to the Church in Need’s report found that persecution was intensifying in two thirds of the worst countries, and that many Christian communities in the Middle East faced extinction within a generation. Archbishop Warda thanked the charity and asked Christians in the west to raise awareness and making politicians aware of what was going on.

“We need to bear the cross,” the archbishop said, “but it is getting heavy.”

  • ms catholic state

    That’s what Hilary Clinton calls it……Freedom to worship…..NOT Freedom of religion. That’s the new trend. Chilling.

    I hope we can get them into Europe…..while we can. We do need to bear the Cross but we also need a solution because there are many forces determined on the wipeout of Christianity……..and they are not all Islamic. Secular forces have the same aim too.

    And there are stories of Muslim UN officials throwing away the emigration papers of Christians fleeing from the Middle East.

  • ms catholic state

    This is the video where Sr Hatune tells of Muslim UN officials destroying the papers of Christians fleeing from the Middle East:

  • Joe Obayda

    Iraq is no always front page news but the problems are still there.

  • Arthur

    ‘Freedom of worship, but not freedom of religion.’ That just about sums up what we now have in this Secular state. It has crept up bit by bit, and now it will be very difficult to roll back.

  • Linus

    Well, what else do you expect from Satan’s army, because that is exactly what Islam is. The god they worship has horns, no doubt about it.

  • Wolfgang Munster Schnoozle

    Gods enemies run amok in the time remaining…

  • Sahani108

    It shame after 1400 yrs Humanity and other religions have not understood what ISlam wants. They want your death and destruction. Our leaders are not talking clearly and we all will be dead one day. As it has happened where ever muslim majority exits.

  • DBMcGinnity

    NOT JUST IN IRAQ

    The Church “has had it” not just in Iraq. “The Gates of Hell have Prevailed against It”. because of ideological and doctrinal disagreements, like thouse expressed in this paper. At the Council of Trent the Bishops pulled each others beards and threatened violence with drawn daggers. At Vatican II, threats were made and writs were issued about differing opinions, with concomitant insults and abuse. The Bishop where I lived was punched on the nose by an irascible, intemperate Italian Bishop, because of his fixed and inflexible opinions. He had to come home with a bloody nose. The people of the dioceses mostly agreed that it couldn’t have happened to a better person. Imagine what some the subscribers to The Catholic Herald would do to each other over differing doctrinal opinions, if they had the chance. I dread to think. I was going to write God Knows, but, God would not want to know some of these hostile, destructive and backward people.

    Archbishop Diarmuid Martin says the Catholic Church in Ireland on Brink of Collapse
    By Caroline O’Doherty.

    http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/archbishop-martin-church-in-ireland-on-brink-of-collapse-146242.html#fizz

    The Roman Catholic Church shot it’s self in the foot a long time ago, worldwide and it is now on it’s legs. It did nothing to stop corruption over the centuries, but it felt safe insofar that it had power and influence to stop any dissenters. The child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church controlled Irish Industrial Schools and Magdalene Laundries were known and covered up for over seventy years, and even now they are still at it. Their record of physical, psychological, sexual and spiritual abuse is atrocious to criminal proportions.

    Even today there is a scandal “Diocese criticised for refusing to give victim apology” By Claire O’Sullivan Irish Examiner Read more: http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/diocese-criticised-for-refusing-to-give-victim-apology-148959.html#ixzz1HL7Nv52J

    All over the world it was the same thing, and then the people, and realised that the Catholic Church was not as wholesome as it appeared to be, especially with the death of John Paul I. Things have got even worse over the years with exposure of Child Abuse and The Irish Church’s political and financial corruption.

  • ms catholic state

    Strange…….the Youtube account that had this video has been closed??!!!! Still google Sister Hatune …..there are lots more of her videos!!

  • DBMcGinnity

    Muslims are not Satan’s army, because Satan is a Myth like Dragons and Goblins. Muslims are the Children of God with souls just like you and me They are just afraid of closed- minded Christians.

    I wonder how many people who condemn Muslims have read and understand the meaning of Koran. I wonder how many have ever been to a Muslim country and talking to the people. How can informed, compassionate Catholics pass judgement on what they have not experienced or do not understand?

    Bede Griffiths was a Benedictine monk and philosopher and a proponent of “Integral thought”, along the lines of philosopher, Ken Wilber’s “Integral Theory” that is an area of discourse emerging from the theoretical psychology and attempts to harmonize scientific and spiritual worldviews.

    Bede Griffiths believed (as I do) that philosophers should not just sit in armchairs (as many do) and read about issues and then with arrogance and self importance, intellectualise ad nausea . He advocated that people should experience things as much as possible, at first hand before they can prognosticate and tell others how they should live. He proposed that before we condemn and criticise what we disagree with, we should find out exactly what it is with which we disagree and reflect on why it is we disagree with it.

    Bede Griffiths was committed Roman Catholic priest all his life and saw God in everything as all those who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ should aspire to do.

    In a 1983 interview Bede Griffiths stated,
    “We’re now being challenged to create a theology which would use the findings of modern science and eastern mysticism which, as you know, coincide so much and to evolve from that a new theology which would be much more adequate.