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Hundreds of Iraqi Christians flee violence in Mosul; Pope voices alarm

Catholic World News - February 25, 2010

Hundreds of Christian families are leaving Mosul, Iraq each day to escape a concerted campaign of violence and intimidation. Syrian Catholic Archbishop Basil Casmoussa presided on February 25 at a funeral for 3 family members who were the latest victims of executio-style murder.

Chaldean Catholic Bishop Emil Nona fears that "Mosul will be emptied completely of Christians;" he will visit Baghdad to plead for help from the national government in establishing some minimal security for the city's religious minority. Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk plans a demonstration calling the attention of international leaders to the "massacre of Iraqi Christians."

Many of the Christians who flee from Mosul-- prompted by a series of targeted killings-- are looking for refuge in the Nineveh plains. Church leaders have warned against plans to confine Christians in that region, saying that it will subject the Christian minority to "ghettoization" and make it easier to plan anti-Christian violence for a single locale.

Pope Benedict XVI interrupted his Lenten Retreat long enough to issue a statement of "deep sorrow" over the news of fresh violence against Christians in Mosul. He assured the embattled minority that he would be them "through prayer and affection" during his spiritual exercises.

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