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    » 05/08/2007, 00.00

    IRAQ

    Chaldean Patriarch: Christians persecuted by Iraqi government and foreign troops



    After a long silence, the leader of the Chaldean Church has gathered and echoed appeals by bishops and clergy, calling for a stop to “internal and external persecution” that is affecting Christians in Iraq. He urged politicians not to stand by and watch, and also condemned US troops: “God does not appreciate what you are doing in our country.”

    Erbil (AsiaNews) – The Patriarch for the Chaldeans, Emmanuel III Delly, has come out with a strong accusation against the Iraqi authorities and foreign troops and has called for decisive intervention from the government and international community to stop the haemorrhage of persecuted Christians from Iraq. Shortly after returning from a long stay in the United States, the head of the Chaldean Church denounced, for the first time since the beginning of the war, the sins of politicians and armies against the people, emphasizing the worrying conditions that Christians are in, threatened with extinction. “Christians are killed, chased out of their homes before the very eyes of those who are supposed to be responsible for their safety,” Delly said forcefully from the altar of the church of Mar Qardagh in Erbil, Kurdistan, where he celebrated Mass on 6 May. The persecution campaign undertaken by Muslim extremists in big cities as well as in villages has prompted the Iraqi clergy and bishops to make several appeals in recent months for the unity of the country and the rights of their community, which has always been a fundamental part of Iraqi society.

    Delly gathered these appeals and made them once again in loud voice: “Today, Christians are persecuted in a country where everyone is fighting for their own personal interests. They have always lived in Iraq and over the years they have done everything possible to contribute to its development together with their Muslim brothers.” Delly said Christians would surely fight to ensure respect for their rights as Iraqis on regional level as well as that of the central government.

    In his address, reported in Arabic on the internet site of the Patriarchate of Baghdad http://www.st-adday.com/, he described the two-fold nature of the persecution: internal and external. “Internal persecution is that perpetrated by Iraqis themselves, who are chasing Christians out of their homes and lands. Responsible for this persecution are all those in power who did nothing and are doing nothing to stop this tragedy. External persecution is that which has affected the very dignity of all the Iraqi people, whose mosques, churches and institutions have been destroyed or occupied, without any respect for their faith.” In this regard, the Patriarch recalled the case of Babel College; its former base in Baghdad has been transformed by American troops into a military base against the wishes of the Patriarchate. This could be seen as further proof that shared faith does not imply complicity between the foreign troops and the Christian community, victimized by the war as much as Muslims are.

    As for the United States, Delly had hard words for its intervention: “The Americans came to Iraq without our consent. God does not appreciate what you have done and are doing in our country... Let us hope that the Lord enlightens these people so that they may stop violating the rights of all Iraqis.”

    The strong stand taken by the Patriarchate, which has kept a low profile for all these years, was expected by the community that now feels somewhat more hopeful. “Now we can even die but at least we will do so knowing that we are doing something, not just waiting for our community to flee from the country or to disappear,” said a priest cited by the website Baghdadhope.

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    See also

    10/05/2007 IRAQ
    Christian leaders join in Patriach Delly’s Iraq appeal
    The Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Syrian-Orthodox Bishop of Aleppo said they were “moved” by the Chaldean Patriarch’s condemnation of Christian persecution in Iraq. They have urged Baghdad, the UN and international forces to “extinguish the flames in which all Iraqis are burning”. Mgr Gregotios Yohanna Ibrahim: “A plan is afoot to change the country’s social structure.”

    06/10/2006 IRAQ
    Terror campaign targets Chaldean church in Iraq

    There were two new attacks against the parish of the Holy Spirit in Mosul in as many days. A convent of Dominican Sisters has also been struck. These are the most blatant signs of a campaign that aims to throw Christians out of Iraq. Then there is the problem of emigration, a problem afflicting also Shiites and Sunnis.



    07/02/2007 IRAQ
    Ordination of three Chaldean deacons “real sign of hope” for Iraq Christians
    The bishop of Kirkuk was present at the ceremony in Ankawa. He said: “It is a positive sign but the Iraqi Church is experiencing a worrying vacuum at pastoral level.” Kidnappings and threats targeting Christians continue in the north too.

    07/08/2006 IRAQ
    First communion in Mosul, where shots became "fireworks"

    The Chaldean parish priest of the Church of the Holy Spirit talks about the celebration of the first Holy Communion of 80 children while the city was struck by car bombs and shooting. "United, we pray for peace in Iraq and also in Lebanon and the rest of the world."



    31/01/2006 Iraq
    Bombs, but also hidden persecution to drive Christians out of Iraq

    Members of the local Chaldean Church speak to AsiaNews about the possible motives behind Sunday's attacks in Kirkuk and Baghdad and tell of the daily threats against their community.





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