US bishops visit Baghdad
October 13, 2011
At the invitation of the Iraqi bishops, two US bishops--Bishop Gerald Kicanas, chairman of Catholic Relief Services, and Bishop George Murry, secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops--have visited Baghdad.
“Because of religious tensions, Christians in Iraq do not feel safe in their churches or their homes,” said Bishop Murry. “Many have emigrated to the north of the country or have left Iraq entirely, which greatly concerns the bishops there. One Chaldean priest told us the chilling story of his kidnapping and being held for ransom by two different groups. Many people had similar stories to tell.”
“Instability and the fear of violence permeate the city,” said Bishop Kicanas. “People pray and long for peace. The sanctions, war, and occupation have taken a heavy toll on the people. The terrible condition of the roads, the concrete security walls around churches and buildings in the city reflect the fractionalization of the community and the dire situation that exists. So many have fled the country or are internally displaced. Many live in desperate situations. Christians will remain in Iraq only if there are opportunities to work, if greater stability and peace can occur.”
“As the United States military moves to the planned withdrawal from the city in the next months, it is critical that a plan be in place for a peaceful transition and not one marred by more violence and the killing of innocent people,” Bishop Murry added.