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Iraqi Christians open first new church since 2003

Catholic World News - July 11, 2011

Iraq's embattled Christian community has opened a new church, for the first time since war began in 2003.

As he presided at the dedication of St. Paul's Church in Kirkuk, Archbishop Louis Sako said that Christians must continue to play an active role in the life of Iraq, because "isolation is a slow death."

The Chaldean Catholic prelate--who has vowed that Christians will stay in Iraq even if they face the prospect of being "a Church of martyrs"--has spoken out frequently about the need to provide security for the religious minority. Iraq's Christian population, which was approximately 1 million before the war began, is now estimated at around 400,000, as many families have fled in the face of violence and intimidation.

St. Paul's, the new church in Kirkuk, was built with the help of government support as well as private donations.

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