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    » 05/21/2010, 00.00

    IRAQ

    Financial crisis forces Patriarchate to rent out the courtyards of churches in Baghdad

    Layla Yousif Rahema

    Economic aid from Kurdistan interrupted, collection money halved due to emigration of the faithful, Mgr. Warduni sets out the Chaldean Churches’ plan "to help pay the salaries of priests and catechists".

    Baghdad (AsiaNews) – Facing a critical economic situation, to the point where it can’t even pay its’ priest’s salaries, the Chaldean Church in Iraq is obliged to rent a private space adjacent to its parish in Baghdad. Branded as "dangerous lies" rumours of the sale of the church of Our Lady of Sorrows (the first cathedral of Iraq, where the patriarchs are buried, of priceless historical value,-ed), the Auxiliary Bishop of the capital. Shlemon Warduni explains to AsiaNews how the Church in Iraq is coping with this crisis.

    A number of factors explain the current difficulties facing the Chaldean Patriarchate. "For about 10 months, the finance minister of Kurdistan, Sargis Agajan, halted all funding to the Christian community, which in recent years had ensured a stable income. Not only that: "With the massive migration of our people - says the bishop - the revenue coming from church collections have halved, while the government gives us absolutely no help."

    Thus, a Patriarchate committee - composed of four lay people, of which Warduni is supervisor with Card. Emmanuel III Delly in charge - is studying plans to utilise Church property to generate revenue to help pay the salaries of priests, to cover the cost of running parishes and catechesis (such as the transport of children and books). This emphasizes the bishop of Baghdad, is an important point: "The Protestants are taking our young people away and say they are evangelizing in our place, we must safeguard our children and our catechism."

    For now, it has been decided to "rent the land adjacent to the former cathedral of Baghdad (outside the walls of the church itself) for 15 years, to a private party who will build stores there." At the end of the contract everything will return to the Patriarchate. The area surrounding "Our Lady of Sorrows" is the first Christian neighbourhood of Baghdad, "the Haqid Nasara" (in English "the meeting place of Christians"). Here, until the '70s, all Christian denominations in the country were focused. Now it has become a very commercial area filled with markets and shops, the heart of the city, where the value of buildings and land has increased a lot. For logistical reasons - the church is situated in an alley that cannot be accessed in a car - the Chaldean cathedral was transferred some years ago to the Church of St Joseph in the neighbourhood of Karada. Despite the security problems faced by the Christians in the capital, "Our Lady of Sorrows" is still open: "A priest has also been appointed to say mass on some occasions" says Bishop. Warduni.

    "The diocese of Baghdad, -  the auxiliary bishop concludes, -  is studying and working on projects that can bring economic help to the other dioceses of Iraq."

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    See also

    12/01/2016 IRAQ
    For Mgr Warduni, Baghdad attacks are cannibalistic acts; a weak government does not provide security
    The prelate slams Islamic State attacks against "women, children, young people", bemoaning the new escalation of "explosions, kidnappings and violence." Yesterday's attacks left dozens of people dead. The Chaldean Church responds to violence with works of charity among Christians and Muslims. US raid hits jihadi money warehouse in Mosul.

    09/07/2009 IRAQ
    Attacks are isolated episodes to destabilise a country on its way to rebirth, Iraqi bishops say
    The situation is improving but ethnic and confessional divisions remain; they are an obstacle on the path of peace. Three attacks hit northern Iraq and the capital, killing 40 and wounding another 80. Tomorrow a group of 19 children will celebrate their first communion. The archbishop of Kirkuk calls on political leaders to show “political maturity” ahead of provincial elections.

    09/12/2009 IRAQ
    Baghdad massacre “barbaric and reckless” response to election deal, bishop says
    The death toll in yesterday’s multiple bombings in Baghdad hits 127 with more than 500 wounded. Mgr Warduni talks about a “demoralised” population, victim of “party and ethnic interests”. Source tell AsiaNews that the “path towards elections is already blocked even before it is cleared.”

    16/03/2009 IRAQ
    Iraq looks to future with "optimism." Economic crisis feared more than security
    Violence and lack of security are not the main cause of concern. 85% of Iraqis call the current situation "very good or quite good." Sources for AsiaNews confirm the reopening of shops and businesses. The country must promote economic alternatives to oil, like tourism and agriculture.

    30/01/2005 IRAQ
    Msgr Warduni: a vote against terrorism
    Baghdad's auxiliary bishop went to vote along with non-Christian clerics.  Voter turnout greater than expected.



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