» 05/21/2010, 00.00
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."
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Msgr Warduni: a vote against terrorism
Baghdad's auxiliary bishop went to vote along with non-Christian clerics. Voter turnout greater than expected.
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul": A Christmas gift to survive winter
As Iraqi troops advance in the Nineveh Plain and Mosul, a new wave of refugees could overshadow the fate of other refugees who found hospitality in Kurdistan. People need kerosene, winter clothes, aid for children, and money for rent. The campaign AsiaNews launched two years ago is more urgent than ever. Give up a superfluous gift to offer refugees an essential gift for life.
Pastor of Amadiya: Mosul’s Christian refugees, torn between emergency aid and the longing to return home
P. Samir Youssef
In a letter Fr. Samir Youssef describes the situation of refugees, exiled from their home for more than two years. They are closely following the offensive to retake Mosul, although their homes and churches "are for the most part" burned or destroyed. With the arrival of winter there is a serve lack of heating oil, clothes, food and money to pay for their children’s school bus. An appeal to continue to support the AsiaNews campaign.
AsiaNews IS ALSO A MONTHLY!
AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.