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Iraqi Christians ‘terrified’; many prepare to leave country

Catholic World News - November 04, 2010

The massacre at the Syrian Catholic cathedral in Baghdad that killed 58 and wounded 70 has left Iraqi Christians “terrified and in shock,” according to the Redemptorist superior in Iraq.

“We are living something that is really terrible,” Father Vincent van Vossel told the Fides news agency. “There had never been a massacre of such magnitude, all within a church during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. I have visited the church and listened to the testimonies of the faithful in shock. The terrorists mercilessly killed women and children. The community is traumatized. The church looked like a cemetery.”

“Yesterday a number of attacks hit Baghdad and Shiite areas, which means that not only Christians are under attack, but the whole area is flooded by terrorism,” added Father van Vossel, who has lived in Iraq for four decades. “Many Christian families are organizing themselves to leave the country. The excruciating dilemma is whether to flee in search of a better future, or stay, risking their lives.”

Father van Vossel noted that the November 2 funeral of the massacre victims “was attended by many Muslim leaders who asked the government to defend Christians. We hope that, after yet another massacre, civil authorities listen to the cry of Christians in Iraq and place an end to their suffering.”

In an interview with the AsiaNews service, Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk said that government officials have an obligation to provide security for Christians, especially at churches on Sunday. Muslim leaders, he added, have a moral duty to denounce the terrorist attacks on Christians.

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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: impossible - Nov. 04, 2010 9:48 PM ET USA

    What a contradiction it is. The US went to war in the Balkans to protect Muslims from "ethnic cleansing," and we stand by while Islamists kill Christians. We're already on the ground in Iraq, so what's our excuse for not trying to stop "ethnic cleansing" there?

  • Posted by: samuel.doucette1787 - Nov. 04, 2010 9:31 PM ET USA

    It's a shame but I agree with jere3812. Christians need to flee the Middle East. I used to hope that they could eke out some kind of foothold in those ancient lands where Christians have worshipped since the times of the apostles, yet I no longer have that hope.

  • Posted by: ColmCille - Nov. 04, 2010 9:11 PM ET USA

    It would be an immense tragedy if Christians abandoned Iraq. They have been there since the beginning. They should stand their ground, returning love for hatred, and remembering that those who are persecuted for the sake of Christ are blessed. Our Fathers were eager to win the crown of martyrdom. They considered it an honor to die for Christ, and they knew that they would go immediately to heavenly glory. Now, we bemoan persecution and run from martyrdom. Where is our faith?

  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Nov. 04, 2010 6:36 PM ET USA

    The solution is not tolerance or violence. The solution is to move these Christians out of that god-forsaken country to a place where they can practice their faith in peace. The Islamic countries no longer welcomes Christians or even Muslims who do not subscribe to the "correct" belief. We cannot, nor should we, engage mullahs who speak out of both sides of their mouth. The only solution is to abandon the country and get out.

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