Extremists driven out of Iraq's the Nineveh Plains "riddled the region with land mines" and "put bombs in children's toys" according to a senior Catholic cleric.Father Luis Montes, Latin Episcopal Vicar for Kurdistan, told Aid to the Church in Need: "Approximately 60 percent of the homes on the Nineveh Plains were burned down. The terrorists not only seized all of their belongings. They riddled the region with land mines." He said that members of Daesh (ISIS) had also "put bombs in with children's toys"
On the eve of the World Day for Migrants and Refugees, Cardinal Nichols has renewed his call for refugees from the Middle East to be welcomed and accommodated in this country. In 2015 the Cardinal met with Christian and Yazidi refugees during a pastoral visit in Erbil, Iraq. Bishops from England and Wales also met with refugees from Syria and Iraq during the annual Holy Land Co-ordination visit, which went to Jordan last year. The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has been in regular contact with the government about developments in the region,
A Christian mother and son in Iraq have told their story of survival after two years of terror living under Daesh (ISIS). In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, widow Jandark Behnam Mansour Nassi, 55, and her son, 16-year-old Ismail, describe their experiences at the hands of Daesh extremists. Ismail, who the militants jailed, recounts seeing gun-wielding Jihadi children kill orange-clad Daesh prisoners and how he witnessed a woman bound hand and foot being stoned to death.
There are warnings that there could be more than a million Iraqi refugees as the battle for Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, intensifies. Winter in northern Iraq means sub-zero temperatures. Last year several babies living in tents in refugee camps died of hypothermia. In the next few weeks as more refugees arrive aid agencies are extremely concerned that more will die of cold unless they are better equipped. CAFOD's partner Hani El Mahdi, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Iraq Country Representative said: "We are very worried. These large numbers of displaced people are
As the military operation to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIL begins, Christian Aid and other aid agencies are preparing for a humanitarian disaster that could push tens of thousands of people from their homes. Up to 1.5 million people could be affected by military operations in Mosul, Iraq's second largest city. The UN has said it will be the single most complex humanitarian operation in the world today. Civilians will be at extreme risk during the military campaign; the UN warns that they could be caught in the cross-fire and used as human shields, while tens of thousands of
Three MPs joined an Aid to the Church in Need trip to see the situation of refugees in Erbil, northern Iraq, who are being cared for by the Church. The group visited camps for displaced families, met with with high-ranking prelates and government officials, and also attended an ordination ceremony. Jim Shannon MP and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief, travelled with Chris Green, MP, Mark Menzies, MP, Canon Pat Browne, Catholic Duty Chaplain to Parliament, Jim Shannon,
On 12 June 1991, a UN-charted aeroplane landed at Habbanyia air base (55 miles west of Baghdad), it was the first traveller by air to Iraq after the first Gulf war. On board, was Mother Teresa who had permission to fly to Iraq due to her old age and the nature of her humanitarian mission. Many Iraqis rushed to the usual hotels to find out where she was staying but they were met with the same reply: despite reserving their best suite for her, Mother Teresa wished to stay at the convent in al- Za'afarania district of Baghdad. She said:
More than 200 young Iraqi Christians, from all the dioceses of the country participated in World Youth Day (WYD) in Krakow, Poland. They were accompanied by two Bishops, priests and a number of nuns. The group were very proactive in all the spiritual meetings, retreats and prayer events. They participated in other activities such as cultural shows, during which they introduce their group with folkloric dances and songs, some wore the traditional clothing from Iraq's Christian villages.
Christian peace campaigners have welcomed the release of the Chilcot Report into the 2003 war on Iraq, which directly caused the deaths of many thousands of people and destabilised the region - leading to the deaths of millions and conflicts continuing today. The report states: " We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort. Barbara Kentish from Westminster J&P said: "The report confirms what many of us suspected for many years
Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako has sent a message to the Muslim in Iraq for the holy month of Ramadan'. The Patriarch writes: "The month of Ramadan offers a propitious time for fasting, prayer, repentance and to change mentality and behaviour, in order to live in peace with oneself and others." The Primate of the Chaldean Church expresses his feelings of solidarity and respect for all members of the umma Mohammad, and in tragic circumstances lived by Iraq urges them to live an 'exceptional Ramadan',
Innocent people caught up in the terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris are suffering the consequences of western policies in Syria and Iraq over the last few years - that is the view of Syrian Catholic Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo. According to Mgr Hindo, who heads the Syrian Catholic Archeparchy of Hassaké-Nisibis, the serious responsibility of European and Western leadership, has often been influenced by short-sighted selfish interests.
Events highlighting the persecution of Christians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere around the world are being planned for later this month and into the spring. The programme, organised by Aid to the Church in Need, coincides with the launch of the Catholic charity's 'Persecuted Christians Need You' campaign aimed at encouraging prayer, information-sharing and support for those who suffer for their faith.
The Commission of Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) has welcomed last week's European Parliament's resolution to recognise the tragic fate of Christians and other minorities as genocide. COMECE sees this as a significant step forward in facilitating measures to prevent the on-going incipient genocide against Christians and other minorities.
Iraqi Christians have expressed their heartache over news that Iraq's oldest Christian monastery has been destroyed by terrorist militia Daesh (ISIS). Father Dankha Issa, an Iraqi monk belonging to the Antonian Order of St Ormizda of the Chaldeans, told Aid to the Church in Need: "St Elijah's Monastery in Mosul was a symbol of the Christian presence in Iraq. The fact that it has been destroyed is terrible." Up to the conquest of Mosul by Daesh in June 2014 thousands of Christians had been living in the predominantly Sunni city in northern Iraq.
On the night between Monday 18 and Tuesday, January 19, air strikes carried out by the international American-led coalition hit the Syriac Orthodox Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, in the market area of Mosul. The city was conquered in June 2014 by the so-called Islamic State. The ankawa.com website quotes local sources who say that the church had been occupied by IS. They say the was devastated by the bombing it suffered. Since IS took over Mosul they have occupied or destroyed over 40 Christian buildings in Mosul, including churches,
Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr has called for the return of homes and property illegally stolen from Christian families in Baghdad, Kirkuk and other Iraqi cities. Chaldo-Assyrian Christian politician Pascale Warda has welcomed this call. Mrs Warda has asked all Iraqi citizens to support the reinstatement of the rights of the Christians owners - a cause that is also supported by several civil society groups in Iraq. Many Christian homes have been stolen, with the collusion of corrupt officials,
Chaldean Christians, in accordance with its liturgical tradition, are preparing to observe the 'Fast of Nineveh', preceding the three weeks before Lent. For three days, from Monday, January 18, the Chaldeans follow this spiritual practice, abstaining from food and drinks from midnight until noon the next day, avoiding to eat foods of animal origin during the three days. On the eve of the Fast, the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Luis Raphael I has invited all the faithful of the Chaldean Church to pray and live abstinence from food in order to ask the Lord
Christians in the Philippine island of Mindanao are suffering "exactly the same" violence and intimidation as in Iraq, according to a long-serving missionary in the country. In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Father Sebastiano D'Ambra highlighted fears of radicalisation in parts of the Philippines after 14 people were killed during attacks on Christmas Day, which included a grenade being thrown at a chapel. Fr D'Ambra, from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) congregation, said: "In some areas of Mindanao we are experiencing exactly the same thing
An 11-year-old Iraqi refugee whose song and video message of forgiveness for Islamic State (IS) went viral worldwide has given startling advice on how world leaders should respond to a Middle East in crisis: "Walk with love and mercy in your hearts." A year ago, Christian satellite television channel SAT-7 KIDS first showed an interview with Myriam by their Egyptian reporter Essam Nagy, in a Christmas special from Northern Iraq. The film was seen by over 2.5 million people around the world.
Aid to the Church in Need has announced a series of extra emergency aid packages for people in Syria and Iraq escaping persecution and grappling with the onset of winter. The charity is rolling out 19 relief programmes in Syria and a further 11 in Iraq - providing food, medicine, shelter and pastoral support. The projects include extra support for families who fled ISIS in northern Iraq: For Christians who took refuge in Baghdad, Iraq, ACN is helping to provide a nursery school for 125 toddlers.
Islamic State can be defeated without resorting to bullets, argues Iraqi priest Fr Nadim Nassar. Just stop the flow of resources and publicity - Dave Gaskill writes in today's Church Times. "Vatican endorses military force against IS", the headlines shouted, after Archbishop Silvano Tomasi (the Vatican's Permanent Observer to the UN) spoke to the United Nations in Geneva. His statement, widely reported, was interpreted by some as not only endorsing the use of military force to protect Christians and other minorities from the violence and oppression of the
Under new legislation, children in Iraq will be automatically registered as Muslim when they are born. Chaldean Patriarch Raphael I Louis has called for a demonstration to protest against the law which is being described as 'the Islamization of minors'. Campaigners will gather on Tuesday, November 10, in front of the Chaldean Church of Saint George in Baghdad to protest. In addition to Christians from different denominations, the protest will be attended will be attended by groups belonging to the religious communities of the Yazidis, Mandaeans and
...Masking itself in the cover of conflict, and no doubt fortified by the world's silence, in Syria and Iraq a genocide of Christians is underway. With its echoes of the genocide launched against Armenian Christians one hundred years ago, in 1915, other defenceless ethnic-religious minorities, such as the Yazidis, are also victims of this Islamist genocide. Deep rooted religious hatred, a hatred of difference, is driving on a systematic campaign of deportation and exodus, degrading treatment, including sexual violence, enslavement, barbaric executions, and attempts to
"One of the most overwhelming human tragedies of recent decades are the terrible consequences that the conflicts in Syria and Iraq have on civilian populations as well as on cultural heritage. Millions of people are in distressing state of urgent need. They are forced to leave their native lands. Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey today carry the weight of millions of refugees, which they have generously received. Faced with such a situation and conflicts that are expanding and disturbing in an alarming way the internal and regional equilibrium, the international community
The Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum' has organised a meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Syria and Iraq to be held on 17 September, which will be attended by the Catholic charitable organisations active in the Middle East and the bishops of the region. The meeting, supported by more than 30 organisations, will be divided into two parts. During the morning, after the introduction by Mgr Giampietro Dal Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council, there will be addresses from Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, and the United Nations
The Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Basra has opened the first Christian museum in the south of Iraq. The museum contains collections of over 200 religious artefacts, documents, photographs, tools, clothing and furniture dating back to the 17th century. The museum, which is based at the Archdiocese, was established by Archbishop of Basra and south Iraq Habib Jajou. It aims to collect, preserve, and display items of cultural and religious significance for the education of the public.
Dear Friends, Words cannot express the horror of what we are all seeing unfold before our eyes and hundreds of thousands flee a living Hell on earth which
is now the lot of large swathes of both Syria, Iraq and beyond. No wonder they flee. So would I if I was stuck in such a desperate situation.
I have just written to my Member of Parliament on behalf of the voiceless of both Syria and Iraq. I have copied it below for you to see.
Aid to the Church in Need (UK) is providing £180,000 for a new convent for the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Erbil, the Kurdish capital. The Sisters distribute material help, provide counselling and give Christian education as part of their ministry to more than 100,000 faithful who fled to Kurdistan a year ago. Prompting their exodus was the summer 2014 invasion of Mosul and Nineveh by Islamist terror group Daesh/IS. The 22 Sisters and two novices needed a new, larger base in Erbil after their convent in Mosul was blown up by IS last November.
A committee of the security forces in Iraq has been set up, on the orders of Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi, to collect information about the violence and abuse suffered by Christians in Iraq and in particular in the capital. The committee aims to counter the escalation of kidnappings of Christians and the illegal expropriation of Christian homes. The heads of the Committee have already visited the headquarters of the Chaldean Patriarchate in Baghdad and spoken with Patriarch Louis Raphael I in order to start collecting data and information about the abuses suffered by Christians.
For the Chaldean Church, and our sister churches of the East, the persecution our community is enduring is doubly painful and severe. We are personally affected by the need, and by the reality that our vibrant church life is dissolving in front of our eyes. The massive immigration that is now occurring is leaving my church much weaker. This is a deeply sorrowful reality. We who are part of the church hierarchy are very often tempted to encourage our parishioners to stay, 'keep the presence of Christ alive' in this special land. But truly I and my brother bishops and priests can do
In a strongly-worded statement addressed to the Iraqi government, the leader of the Chaldean Church, Patriarch Raphael Louis Sako called on his country's leaders to do their utmost to defeat "extremist groups that wear religious habits [whose] use of violence to extend their control are a danger to all." The thinly veiled reference to Daesh (ISIS) came in a letter dated Thursday 6 August 2015, exactly one year after more than 120,000 Christians fled the Nineveh Plane after Daesh's capture of Qaraqosh, the last Christian majority town in Iraq.
The Chaldean Church of St Joseph in Mosul has been turned into a mosque by IS/ Daish. The Chaldean church dedicated to St Ephrem has also been converted. The jihadists have been established in the city since last June. turning it into the capital of their self-declared Islamic Caliphate. Some pictures of the place of worship show that the dome has been painted black, and the church - situated in the district of Maidan, in the historic city - has been stripped of all crosses and Christian symbols and images. The mosque seems to have been named after Abu Abdulrahman al-Bilawi,
A priest who was killed in Syria while caring for his people trapped in a war zone should be considered for canonisation, according to a fellow Jesuit who was his friend and colleague. Father Francs van der Lugt was assassinated by an unknown sniper in April 2014 at his home in Homs. The Dutch Jesuit had lived in Syria for more than 40 years and was based in Homs, caring for the Christians trapped in the Old City during a siege that lasted three years. Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, Fr Ziad Hilal said the Vatican "should consider making Fr Francs a saint".
Government should step up efforts in Iraq to "free" Mosul and neighbouring Nineveh from so-called Islamic State so Christians and others can fulfil their dream of returning home - according to a leading archbishop from the region. Marking the first anniversary of the fall of his city to the Islamist terror group, Syrian Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Mouche made an impassioned plea to the "people who have the responsibility" to remove IS and enable people forced out to return and rebuild their lives.
In the chaos sparked by the American-led invasion of Iraq, a million people, two-thirds of Iraq's Christians, fled the country. Many who left didn't sell their properties, in the hope that one day they would return. But powerful individuals and criminal networks have been able to gain control of properties and in some cases expel occupants, even though there were very few documents supporting their claims. In an interview with Al- Mada TV station, Mohammed al- Rubai, a member of Baghdad's municipal council, said: "Almost 70 per cent of Baghdad's Christian homes have been
Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, writes from New York in his blog God's Politics: Rand Paul is in the news this week for rightly pointing out that the rise of ISIS can in large part be tied to the disastrous neoconservative policies of the last two decades, which have completely destabilized the region -- most notably the decision to invade Iraq in 2003. After Jeb Bush kept changing his position on the war his brother started, the media has been pushing other Republican candidates to say what they would have done about Iraq "if they had known what we know now."
The bishop overseeing the needs of displaced Christian families in northern Iraq called on an ecumenical delegation to ensure Britain does not forget the plight of Iraq's suffering Christians. Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil made the plea to UK Christian leaders from the Catholic, Oriental Orthodox and Anglican communities visiting northern Iraq. Archbishop Warda said: "The needs are huge - the Church has achieved a lot here, but there is such a lot to do. Please remember us and please keep telling the story in churches, in the media and to your politicians -
In 1922 Christians made up 51% of the population of Jerusalem. Now, only 2% of Palestinians are Christian. In "The Spirit of Peace" the theologian Mary Grey explores the decimation of this ancient community, linking it with the recent sectarian cleansing of Christians from Syria, Iraq and Egypt. "They discovered they were invisible," she concludes, "unacknowledged, dismissed, denounced or forgotten by fellow Christians throughout the world, especially in the United States." Yet, Grey also puts their suffering in the wider context of the Palestinian people, whom, she believes, have endured a terrible
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, had words of encouragement for Christians of the Middle East when he concluded his visit to Iraq at a meeting of the bishops that are part of the Roaco (Riunione Opere Aiuto Chiese Orientali, Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches") in Erbil today. The cardinal, in his second trip to Iraq, brought Pope Francis' blessing to Iraqi Christians and conveyed his encouragement to all those organisations working to support Christians, other minorities and everyone suffering because of the violence.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols has condemned the murder of more than 300 Yazidi captives by IS/ Daish on Friday. In a statement the Yazidi Progress Party said the Yazidis were killed in the Tal Afar district near Mosul. No further details have been given. Iraqi Vice-President Osama al-Nujaifi described the reported deaths as "horrific and barbaric". Cardinal Nichols said yesterday: "I am deeply shocked by the brutal murder of these peace-loving people.
The Yazidis I met in our recent visit to Erbil impressed me with their quiet dignity.
The Iraqi government has announced the creation of a joint Iraqi-Kurdish task force to start military operations aimed at freeing Mosul and Nineveh province, currently under the control of IS/Daish. The plan was agreed during a summit meeting in Erbil attended by Itaqi and Kurdish government ministers. Iraqi media also reported that the US ambassador in Iraq, Stuart E Jones also took part. Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi pledged that Iraq will commit its army in the liberation of the province of Nineveh,
Cardinal Vincent Nichols has just returned from a two-day visit to northern Iraq, where he visited many Christians forced to flee ISIS/Daish.. The refugees are now living precariously between two major major conflicts: the war in Syria between rebel groups and President Al-Assad's regime, and the advance into Iraq of ISIS/Daish militia. Reflecting on his visit Cardinal Nichols said the families "were driven out of their homes with little more than three hours notice. Then, at check points, they were robbed of anything of value.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, has gone to Iraq this weekend to visit Christians refugees forced to flee ISIS/Daish. The Cardinal will be in in Erbil from Saturday to Monday Monday, April 11-13, to express the solidarity of Christians in England and Wales with refugees. In a statement, the Church said the initiative is a sign of "solidarity with the tens of thousands of Christian refugees driven from their homes and off their land by ISIS last year from Mosul." During his Easter Vigil homily, Cardinal Nichols reflected on the desperate plight of the refugees,
Aid to the Church in Need has called on the Government to act to save persecuted Christians and other faith groups in Iraq and Syria after a UN human rights office report said recent atrocities there could be classed as 'genocide'. The report, based on interviews with more than 100 alleged victims and witnesses, called on the security council to refer the case to the International Criminal Court. While welcoming the report, ACN has demanded the UK Government take action to address the situation. The report highlights substantial human rights violations, including killings, torture, rape and sexual slavery, forced religious conversions
The Syrian refugee crisis - now totaling nearly four million refugees- has reached a "tipping point," in which countries in the region are no longer able to handle the flow of refugees across their borders, warns US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) officials who recently traveled to the Middle East. "Without more international support, we will find Syrians fleeing extremists being turned away and forced back to danger," said Anastasia Brown, interim executive director for USCCB's Migration and Refugee Services (MRS). "The global community, led by Europe and the United States, needs to increase its support in order to prevent a humanitarian crisis."
In the wake of the brutal murders of 21 Coptic Christians at the hands of IS in Libya, increased support to protect religious minorities and civilians should be combined with adequate humanitarian assistance and other assets, said the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace. “Pope Francis and the Holy See have reiterated on a number of occasions that it is ‘licit’ to use force to stop these unjust aggressors and to protect religious minorities and civilians from these horrendous attacks,”
An Iraqi bishop grappling with an influx of thousands of displaced people fleeing Islamic State has urged charities and the UK Government to continue to support Christians and other suffering communities threatened with wipe-out. Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, in Kurdish northern Iraq, met Baroness Joyce Anelay, the Foreign Office Minister with responsibility for Human Rights on Thursday (12th February) at the end of a hectic five-day visit to London in which he laid bare the crisis facing his country’s Christians.
The largest blood donor drive ever held in a church in Iraq took place at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in Kirkuk on Tuesday. Large numbers gathered at the cathedral awaiting their turn to donate blood. Chaldean Archbishop Joseph Thomas, Archbishop of Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah, in northern Iraq organised the event. At a press conference, Archbishop Thomas said: “We have organised this campaign to show our support, solidarity and gratitude to our sons in the armed forces and all the victims of terrorist operations
Storms, snow and freezing cold are threatening lives among exhausted Syrian refugees in the Middle East. Norwegian Refugee Council fears that the insufficient assistance may have fatal consequences for refugees and internally displaced from Lebanon to Northern Iraq. “Similar weather conditions two years ago led to unnecessary deaths in the war-torn region. Now there are millions more Syrian and Iraqi refugees and internally displaced in dire need of help.
Pope Francis would be “100 percent” safe if he visited Iraq, according to the Patriarch of Baghdad, who has stressed the importance of such a trip to the country’s dwindling Christian community. In an interview apparently accusing Papal advisors of being overcautious, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako described any such visit as having “high pastoral and spiritual symbolism”. Outlining an itinerary for a possible one-day Papal visit to Iraq, the Patriarch
Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, France, was due toi transmit a video message from Pope Francis to the Christians and the population as a whole in Iraq, to be screened this afternoon in the city of Erbil. The twinning of the diocese with Mosul, which began last summer, has given rise to several initiatives to support the Iraqi population. The full text of the Pope's message is published below: “I would like to greet each and every one of you, along with Cardinal Philippe Barbarin,
Yesterday, jihadi militants of the Islamic State, who control the city of Mosul, used explosives to severely damage the convent of the Chaldean Sisters of the Sacred Heart - one of 45 Christian institutions they have captured since June. Previously they were living in the building. Chaldean sources report that the explosion took place in two phases. The first attempt was unsuccessful, but then the jihadists used more powerful explosives, causing massive damage to the convent, with the intent to eliminate the cross that stands on the place of worship.
As part of its mission to support Iraq's displaced Christians, the Knights of Malta, Germany have opened a new health centre in Ankawa, in the north of the country. The centre, which costs 89,000USD, will contain six clinics, a theatre for minor operations and a pharmacy. St Joseph medical centre was officially inaugurated by Archbishop Bashar Warda of the Chaldean Catholic Church on Sunday, 2 November, 2014. The centre will provide primary health services for the displaced families.
ISIS invaded Aswad’s village Kocho on 8 October 2014. They militants insisted that all the Ezidis (Yazidis) in the village convert to Islam or die. When they refused, ISIS gathered around a thousand people in the school. They took villagers’ phones, money, and jewelry. Then, ISIS took the men and drove them in three trucks several hundred metres from the main road. There, they knocked them to the ground and shot them with machine guns, and then shot them each in the head to make sure he was dead. When it was Aswad’s turn, the executioner
Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako I has suspended a group of monks and priests who fled Iraq without consulting their superiors. Published on the Chaldean Patriarchate’s website, the Patriarch's decree gives the names of six priests and six monks who, as of October 22, have been suspended from their priestly duties... When he is ordained, the Priest offers his whole life to God and the Church. It is an offering grounded in the obedience to the superiors without any reservations.
Reflecting on his recent trip to the Holy Land and to Iraqi Kurdistan, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City said that for all practical purposes, the bishops of Mosul no longer have Churches to shepherd. “When we were in Erbil, we met with Archbishop Amel Nona, Chaldean Catholic Archeparch of Mosul, now exiled in Erbil who along with his priests and all of the faithful of the archdiocese, have been driven out,” Archbishop Coakley said. “He is, in effect, the archbishop of a Church that no longer exists.
Thousands of refugees who fled from ISIS in Mosul and the Nineveh Plain to refugee camps in Iraq are now enduring violent storms and floods. Since Wednesday 16 October, torrential rains have hit camps in Erbil and Ankawa, the predominantly Christian suburb of the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Chaldean archdiocese together with humanitarian agencies involved in the rescue of refugees, have launched an appeal to the local authorities and the international community to help those in critical conditions. There are at least a thousand tents scattered in Ankawa.
The necessity for UK Christians and non-Christians alike to stand in solidarity with persecuted and oppressed Christians throughout the world was emphasised at events in Motherwell, near Glasgow, and London, organised by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Each of the events – the first in Motherwell Cathedral last Thursday, and the other one two days later in Westminster – attracted about 250 people. The keynote speaker at both ACN events was Maronite Archbishop Elias Nassar of Saida, Lebanon.
The Government of Iraq is guilty of not helping Christians desperate to flee Islamic State militia, according to a leading Catholic bishop. Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said Iraq’s national government in Baghdad “has done nothing, absolutely nothing” for 120,000 Christians seeking sanctuary away from areas terrorised by the extremists. Archbishop Warda said displaced Christians in his diocese and the nearby Dohuk region were becoming increasingly concerned for the future two months after leaving their homes in Mosul and the Niniveh Plains.
Pax Christi members held a day-long vigil outside Downing Street in London to pray and fast for peace in the Middle East. Pax Christi members undertook the fast to offer prayerful encouragement to the many peace talks and negotiations that are taking place at this time and as a small act of solidarity with those whose lives are destroyed by war. In a letter sent to David Cameron prior to the day Pax Christi's message was clear: That the government should: - Invest resources and personnel in peacebuilding and diplomatic work
In light of recent expansion of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Dutch Pax Christi section – PAX – issued a new Syria & Iraq Alert, highlighting the need for a comprehensive political strategy to counter ISIS. The sudden and unforeseen expansion of ISIS in Iraq and Syria over the summer has led to a dramatic shift on the ground in the Middle East, in Western public opinion, and subsequently in the involvement of the international community. Although ISIS had been a threat to civilians in northern Syria and Iraq over the past year,
A month after Barack Obama launched aerial attacks against Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq, many of the militants have stopped gathering in the open and are hiding in abandoned churches of Mosul. Some of these churches are located in a densely populated area. Residences are concerned that their neighbourhood will be targeted. Local resident Leila Abdullah said: “Many ISIS fighters have taken shelter in the UM al Mauna church in Mosul’s Dawasa district.
The leaders of Iraq’s Christians have called on the United Nations to urgently address the growing refugee crisis before a freezing winter forces displaced Christians to leave the country. “We Christians in Iraq have a future if the international community gives us immediate assistance. Don’t forget us,” Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako told a conference at the UN in Geneva. The patriarch told the delegates that “People are disappointed how little help has been received to date.” He was addressing a conference
Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom issued the following statement on 10 September regarding the need for collaboration to address violations of international religious freedom in Iraq, Syria and the wider Middle East. The widespread brutality facing Christians and minorities in the Middle East is intensifying, and gross violations of the God-given right and freedom to practice Faith and belief, as protected by Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is increasingly experienced by them in their homelands.
Hundreds of Assyrians gathered before Downing Street on Sunday, September 8 to express support for the beleaguered Christian Assyrians of Iraq. The peaceful demonstration was organized by ‘A Demand for Action’ to raise awareness of the forced expulsion of Christians from their homes and to demand a safe haven for minorities in Iraq.
HRH The Prince of Wales has made a personal donation to help Christians terrorised in northern Iraq and offered a heartfelt message of sympathy and support. The payment – which is being made through Aid to the Church in Need, the international charity for persecuted Christians – will go to provide food, shelter and medicine for Christians taking refuge in the Kurdish north of the country. In August alone, 120,000 Christians fled their ancient homelands in the Nineveh plains after the region was seized
The recent upsurge in violence in Iraq has led to a major new humanitarian crisis with more than 1.45 million people forced to flee their homes since the start of the year, many of them from persecuted religious minorities including Yazidis, Shabak and around 100,000 Christians. Following the launch of a Christian Aid crisis appeal the charity's long-standing partners in the region are responding with food, hygiene kits and other humanitarian essentials for the displaced.
More than 50 representatives from national religious groups, academics and ministers have written to President Obama urging alternatives to US military action in Iraq. The ecumenical Faith Forum for Middle East Policy offers a fresh way to view and analyze conflicts and propose a broad set of smart, effective nonviolent practices to counter hostile situations. The text of the most recent letter agreed by the Forum follows below: Dear President Obama: As religious communities, leaders, and academics, we write to express our deep concern
Malteser International, the worldwide relief agency of the Order of Malta, will be providing medical assistance for 10,000 displaced Christians and minorities in north Iraq over the next three three months. A shipment containing drugs, medical supplies and hygiene items will be distributed to the camps around Erbil through the humanitarian agency’s network on the ground. “The number of refugees and displaced continues to rise – the United Nations estimates there are over a million just in north Iraq,” Oliver Hochedez, who leads the team on the ground, reports.
The Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo, Syria, Antoine Audo has appealed for an international peace force to hold back the onslaught of the Islamic State militants advancing in Syria and Iraq. In an interview with the Vatican Radio Italian Service, Bishop Audo said: “We are a bit confused; no one knows exactly what is happening. As Christians, as Syrians, we hope to have a solution of reconciliation, of peace, with the help of the United Nations. An international peace force is needed. The situation in Aleppo is rather difficult, with problems of electricity, water; there is no security.
CAFOD has joined leading Muslim charities – including Muslim Aid, Muslim Charities Forum and Islamic Help – to launch an urgent call for an end to the horrific suffering in Iraq. In a joint statement, also signed by the Act Alliance and World Vision, the agencies described the suffering of minorities, including Christians, Yazidis and Turkmens, as “unacceptable” and "despicable". CAFOD’s Alan Thomlinson said: “People of all faiths are appalled by the wave of attacks in Iraq that has left hundreds of thousands of people homeless and in desperate need.
A few weeks ago while desperately trying to get some news about Mosul and my aunt Sister Utuur, there I stood feeling bombshelled as I read the news I feared most, ‘two nuns, two orphan young girls and a little boy held by ISIS’. Immediately my mind was assaulted by many questions ‘why were they risking their lives, for goodness sake?’, ‘How can God allow this?’ But the biggest and most pertinent question of all was ‘Where is God?’ It was exactly this very question that haunted me for a few months after visiting the House of Terror in Budapest last February.
Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, who visited Iraq as personal envoy of Pope Francis, met the Holy Father on Friday to report on his mission. In an interview with Fides, Cardinal Filoni said that during his visit he met Christians who had escaped from Mosul and the Nineveh Plain. They had been uprooted from their homes, from their daily lives, and thrown into an unpredictable situation, he said, living from from one day to the next, without a home, without clothes,
The international head of Aid to the Church in Need has called on the world’s governments to act immediately to keep Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq. “If we do not want to be silent witnesses to the last chapter of the history of Christendom in Iraq, the international community must respond decisively now,” said Baron Johannes Heereman. He made the statement after returning from Erbil, Iraq, where the charity is supporting the Church’s emergency aid for internal refugees.
The Bishop of the Forces, the Right Reverend Richard Moth has asked military chaplains to offer Mass for those persecuted for their faith on Sunday 31st August. In a Pastoral Letter, timed to coincide with military personnel returning from summer leave, Bishop Moth “calls on everyone across our Bishopric community to join me in redoubling our prayers for those who are victims of this persecution. We remember those who have lost their lives, those who have been kidnapped and all who face uncertainty having been driven from their homes.”
The plight of thousands of displaced people suffering in soaring temperatures has been highlighted by a delegation from a charity for persecuted Christians now in northern Iraq. The team of three from Aid to the Church in Need, including the Executive President, Baron Johannes Heereman and Projects Director Regina Lynch have been visiting internal refugees desperate for sanctuary both in the Kurdish regional capital, Erbil, and towns and villages further north.
Iraq’s most senior Christian leader has declared that the US and the EU have a moral obligation to flush out jihadist forces from the Nineveh plains and enable communities to return to their ancestral homes. In a statement on Wednesday, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Baghdad calls on the US, European countries and Arab nations to join forces and reclaim ancient communities in Nineveh from Islamist fighters. He said outside intervention was necessary because the Iraq government in Baghdad
Cardinal Seán Brady, President of the Irish Episcopal Conference, has asked parishes to pray for peace in Iraq especially on 15 August, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. "The horrifying reports of the human suffering of the people of Northern Iraq are heart-rending. The violence and bloodshed being carried out against people because of their religion is truly shocking. Christian communities are being targeted in a particular way, as people are forced to flee from their homes because of the violence that has caused immense harm.
In a document released earlier today to over one hundred parishes in the metropolitan and rural areas of Perth, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, the Catholic Archbishop of Perth, invites “Catholics, fellow Christian brothers and sisters, and all those who believe in God” to pray to God “to bring about a satisfactory intervention” to the escalating crisis in Iraq. “The evil and subsequent suffering unfolding in Iraq is not of God's making but is the result of humanity's terrible abuse of God's precious gift of free will,” says the archbishop.
Pax Christi Member Organisations in Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany,I ndia, Italy, New Zealand, the UK and the United States have sent letters to their Ministers of Foreign Affairs calling for an immediate action t safeguard the right of life of all vulnerable populations in Northern Iraq. The news coming from the country is horrendous: thousands of people, mostly minority groups including Christians, Yazidis, Shabak and Turkmen have been brutally driven from their homes; innocent children, women and men are suffering violence of every kind.
The Jesuits in Britain have joined the Holy Father’s prayers for peace in Iraq. Pope Francis has appealed on several occasions over the past few weeks for violence to stop and has urged the Church to intercede for a peaceful solution to the fighting in the Middle East, most recently at last Sunday's Angelus. Fr Dermot Preston SJ, the Provincial of the Jesuits in Britain, says that the Pope has expressed his deep concern at the situation in this region of the world and has expressed his “spiritual closeness” to those who are suffering.
In a letter to the Foreign Secretary, Cardinal Nichols has “welcomed the humanitarian efforts” that the British government has made in Iraq over the past few days but has urged that the “relief operation” and “crucial diplomatic efforts” be increased. The Cardinal says “there needs to be a sustained focus on creating a more stable society based on respect for fundamental human rights, especially freedom of religion, and the rule of law. Britain has a role to play in that and I ask that you
Pope Francis has written to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, regarding the situation in Iraq. Dated August 9, and released today (Wednesday, August 13), the letter condemns the violent persecutions underway in the country, and calls on the international community to act swiftly and decisively to stop the humantiarian disaster currently taking place. "The violent attacks that are sweeping across Northern Iraq," writes Pope Francis, "cannot but awaken the consciences of all men and women of goodwill
In response to the terrible suffering happening in Gaza and Iraq, Christian Aid has produced some resources to help Christians reflect, pray and act. The Bible calls Christians to have a heart for the poor, and already the generous response from Christians to both emergencies is helping those in need. But it can sometimes be hard to know how to incorporate reflections and prayers into church services and small groups so Christian Aid has produced some suggested Bible readings, prayers and reflections which are available on its website.
Christian Aid has said in a statement that it is horrified by the terrifying situation in northern Iraq where hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes in fear of their lives in the last few days due to the advance of IS (Islamic State) forces. Many of them are persecuted religious minorities, including Yazidis and Christians. Janet Symes, head of Middle East at Christian Aid, said: “The situation across parts of Iraq and the plight of persecuted minorities is horrific. The magnitude at which Islamic State militants are operating at
CAFOD have committed £25,000 to its Caritas partners in Iraq so that they can respond to the plight of Iraqis forced from their homes, fleeing violence. This money will be used to support the urgent needs of families who now find themselves living in schools, public buildings, churches and mosques. Working under dangerous conditions, a CAFOD partner sent this short report describing the deteriorating situation: “After the occupation of Mosul by the armed militants two months ago, these groups started moving from Mosul.
Iraqis fleeing persecution are to receive emergency help of nearly £80,000 (US$130,000) after a Catholic charity for suffering Christians announced an aid package amid desperate calls for help. In response to appeals for aid from Iraq’s most senior bishop, Aid to the Church in Need agreed a grant to help people desperate for food and shelter having fled advancing forces from the Islamic State (formerly ISIS). This latest grant comes on top of ACN emergency aid given in June soon after the Islamic State seized Mosul.
Pope Francis renewed his call for prayer and practical support for the suffering populations of Iraq today (Sunday). Addressing the crowds gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Angelus, the Holy Father also made prayerful appeals for an end to the fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and for the victims of the Ebola outbreak and for all those fighting to stop it. “Let us pray together to the God of peace,” said Pope Francis, “through the intercession of the Virgin Mary: Give us peace, O Lord, in our days, and make us builders of justice and peace.”
This morning I received a plaintiff gut wrenching message from a family who have fled from Nineveh. Describing how they were overwhelmed by ISIS militias they fled "to protect our children and sisters and wives." They asked "where is the UN? Where is NATO? Where is EU and US? Where is Putin? Nobody cares about us. We are fleeing from one place to another, we are exhausted. We are betrayed. We are being massacred and nobody cares. We speak the language of Jesus, we are the first Christians but the Christian world has forgotten us.
The chairman of the Committee of International Justice and Peace of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked US bishops to invite the people of their dioceses to pray for peace in Iraq on Sunday, August 17. Bishop Richard E Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, has sent the bishops the text of a prayer written by the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq, His Beatitude Louis Rafael Sako. Bishop Pates recounted the struggles of Christians and others in Iraq who have faced the destruction, burning and looting of churches, homes and businesses and, under threat of ISIS
Christians are suffering and dying in Iraq. The terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS) is killing them, displacing them and seizing their properties. Now Iraq’s ancient Yazidi community is experiencing similar abuses. This is a catastrophe for the people of Iraq and the region and if left unchecked it could also have profound implications for freedom and democracy across the globe. Religious freedom is a fundamental right that has been described as a ‘litmus test’ for the depth of democracy. That’s why attacks on this right cannot be ignored.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and Archbishop of Westminster has released a statement on Iraq today, calling for urgent "help and protection" for the persecuted communities in the north of the country. Cardinal Nichols calls on the UK Government to "lead the efforts in the face of such a human calamity" to restore communities and facilitate essential humanitarian aid. The full statement follows: “I have followed with deep sadness the unfolding disaster in Mosul, in Sinjar and Qaraqosh, and in other towns and villages
Up to a quarter of Iraq's Christians are reported to be fleeing after Islamic militants seized the minority's biggest town in the country - the BBC reports today. The Islamic State (IS) group captured Qaraqosh in Nineveh province overnight after the withdrawal of Kurdish forces. Meanwhile, the UN says some of the 50,000 members of the Yazidi religious minority trapped by IS on Mount Sinjar have been rescued. IS controls parts of Iraq and Syria and says it has created an Islamic state. Nineveh, located 400km north-west of Baghdad, is home to a large number of religious minorities.
As thousands of Christians fled the city Qaraqosh today, ahead of advancing Islamic militant group ISIS, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako has made a desperate appeal for help to Pope Francis, the Patriarchs of the East and Presidents of Bishops' Conferences around the world. Patriarch Sako writes: The Christians of Iraq confront an enormous tragedy The Christians of Mosul (Nineveh Province, Iraq), horrified, have fled the city with only the clothes on their back.
I write in the light of today's news of the capture by Islamic militants of the ancient Christian city of Qaraqosh in Iraq. It is estimated that 200,000 Christians have now been forced to flee, and churches and manuscripts in the town are already being destroyed. I have a small though meaningful personal link with Qaraqosh. When I was Parish Priest in Brook Green the Syrian Catholic Chaplain, Mgr Nizar Semaan, was (and still is) in residence there.
On Sunday evening ISIS seized more towns in the north west of Iraq. Following prolonged fighting between ISIS and Peshmerga – Kurdish soldiers – ISIS fighters took control of Sinjar, Zummar and Ayn Zalah to the north west of Mosul towards the border with Syria. Reports received by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need indicate that ISIS's seizure of the region has caused thousands of Yezidi families to flee. The region is mixture of Arab Sunnis and Yezidis.
The UK head of a Catholic charity has hit out at the British Government for helping “to lay the foundations” for the rise of extremists in Iraq who have flushed out the last remaining Christians from Mosul after 1,600 years. Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director, Aid to the Church in Need (UK), said the UK’s response to uprisings in the Middle East “has blown up in our face” and called on the Government to help form “an axis of moderation” in the region. He went on to warn that, unless action was taken, “before long” the UK could be in line
Where are the voices of the international community and our Church leaders about the plight of our brothers and sisters in faith and also others of faith and good will in Iraq? The reporting of what is going on is sporadic and never makes any front page. The silence of the world and let it be said, of many Church leaders, is almost deafening except for the few. The situation there in one of horror and as local Bishops and other leaders have said, this violence, and it is violence of a horrendous kind will, unless it is stopped, spread throughout the whole Middle East.
Up to 2,000 people from the Iraqi Christian community in the United Kingdom, together with British Christian and Muslim supporters, held a vigil near Parliament Square, Westminster on Saturday, 26 July, to protest at the persecution of Christians in Iraq. There were readings, prayers, hymns and chants, before a delegation walked down Whitehall to Number Ten Downing Street to present a petition. The vigil was led by Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Toma Dawood, Syrian Catholic Monsignor Nizar Semaan, Chaldean Catholic
What is happening to the Christian communities in the Middle East is nothing less than martyrdom and destruction of their heritage and our ancient origins. The news in Iraq is more than grim, it is catastrophic, and yet, where is the voice of the Western Christian community? The Anglican Church voted for Women Bishops last week and good for it, but in all their rejoicing did anybody in General Synod raise a voice to speak out for the daily martyrdom and destruction of a faith that has remained rooted in a country and culture for 2000 years? They may have, but all those bottles of champagne
In a dramatic appeal to the international community the Archbishops of Mosul, Iraq have asked for more outside help for minorities in Iraq. Their declaration calls for pressure to be put on the militants to end the destruction of Church buildings – including historic churches. With violence still ongoing in parts of the country, they said: "We, the Archbishops of Mosul, coming from all the denominations gathered in Erbil, Ankawah, headed by His Beatitude Patriarch Raphael Louis I Sako,
Pope Francis has reassured the Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church Ignatius Youssef III Younan that he is following news out of Iraq with concern, particularly the dramatic situation of Christians in Mosul who have been threatened with death and seizure of their homes by Islamic militants demanding they leave or convert to their form of Islamic belief. Christians have lived in Iraq’s second largest city for nearly two thousand years; there are few, if any, left now in Mosul. The Patriarch told the Italian Catholic news agency SIR (Religious Information Service),
The head of the Catholic Church in Iraq has warned EU leaders that Christians – present in the country for almost 2,000 years – could all but disappear unless the violence is halted. Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, head of the Chaldean Catholic Church – Iraq's largest Christian community – told EU representatives that unless a peaceful resolution is found, "Christians will be left with just a symbolic presence in Iraq. If they leave, their history is finished." Amid worsening political turmoil in Iraq,
Two nuns and three orphans in their care, who were abducted in Mosul on 28 June by Islamic militants. have been released today, Monday 14 July. According to the Chaldean Patriarch, no ransom was paid for their release, all are in good physical health and they were treated well during their abduction. The two nuns disappeared on 28 June close to the Chaldean Monastery of Maskenta in Mosul. The sisters live and work in an orphanage attached to the monastery.
The Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, Amel Shamon Nona, has described the desperate situation in Mosul since it was captured on 9 June by ISIS. He said: "A few days ago the Iraqi air force began bombing in Mosul, and the air raids are increasing each day in intensity. Yesterday the roads that cross the Nineveh Plain were full of convoys of cars with Muslim families fleeing from Mosul to Erbil and Iraqi Kurdistan". The airstrikes continue to empty the city of civilians, while militants continue to control
Pax Christi USA is saddened by the violence which has gripped Iraq in recent days and which has led to further suffering for the people of that nation. The people of Iraq have borne the brunt of violence for far too long and our hearts are broken over the killing and displacement now taking place. We join Pope Francis – and people all over the world – in praying for an end to the violence and for “security and peace and a future of reconciliation and justice where all Iraqis, whatever their religious affiliation, will be able together to build up their country, making a model of coexistence.” (Pope Francis, June 16, 2014)
Catholic bishops from Iraq are meeting this week to come up with a 'rescue plan' amid growing fears that the ISIS Islamist attacks have put Christianity at increased risk of being extinguished from the country. The meeting of the Chaldean hierarchy, which started on Tuesday, 24 June, comes after the military success of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) prompted yet another wave
The current conflict in Iraq demands humanitarian assistance from the United States in addition to diplomatic measures, said the chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace in a June 19 letter to Ambassador Susan E Rice, National Security Advisor. The letter was delivered just before President Obama held a press conference on Iraq. “Our nation bears a special responsibility toward the people of Iraq. The US-led invasion and occupation unleashed both sectarian conflicts and extremism in Iraq,
The international community should not intervene in the struggle against ISIS extremists in Iraq, according to the Archbishop of Baghdad, who says the priority is for Iraqi leaders to "work together" to overcome the crisis. In an interview yesterday, Archbishop Jean Sleiman stressed that political "consensus" within Iraq was critical in overcoming the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which last week pulled off a series of military take-overs of key northern cities including Mosul, the country's second city.
A graphic account of the Islamist takeover of Mosul and the people's desperate struggle to flee to safety has come from the city's Chaldean bishop. Speaking today (Wednesday 11 June) to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Amel Nona, said he thought Mosul's last remaining Christians had left now a city which until 2003 was home to 35,000 faithful. The Christians are among 500,000 thought to have fled Mosul whose overthrow yesterday is now followed by news today of militant attacks on the Iraqi city of Tikrit 95 miles north of the capital, Baghdad.
Karem Delly was born in Tel Keppe, in northern Iraq, on September 27, 1927 to Jarjes Murad Delly and Katrina Putros .He was baptized on October 6, 1927 by father Francis Kattola.When he completed his high school education, Delly enrolled at the St Peter seminary in Mosul on September 21, 1940. After studying philosophy for two years he was sent by Patriarch Emmanuel II Toma to Rome to further his education. Delly obtained a Master's Degree in Philosophy from the Pontifical Urbaniana University.
The Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Archbishop Louis Sako Raphael, has given instructions for a special prayer to be recited in all the Chaldean churches in Iraq at the end of Sunday Masses in preparation for the upcoming elections, scheduled on 30 April. The prayer says: "O Lord. You are our Creator and Father. We turn to you, in the delicate and difficult circumstances experienced by our country. We ask for your help as individuals, as communities and government,
A British MP has told a parliamentary debate that the persecution of Christians today should be compared to the Kristallnacht attack on Jews instigated by the Nazis. Listing "a preponderance" of anti-Christian violence, including forced conversions on pain of death, kidnappings and attacks in Christian homes, churches and businesses, Fiona Bruce MP highlighted increasing reports of "extreme persecution", especially in the Middle East. Fiona Bruce said: "We should be crying out with the same abhorrence and horror
A Jesuit priest and peace activist who was kidnapped by rebels on 28 July this year, is alive and well, according to the Aki-Adnkronos International news agency. “Fr Paolo Dall’Oglio is alive and being treated well by his kidnappers, who are members of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) extremist group,” a source said. The Italian Jesuit was reportedly seen last Saturday, in an area in northern Syria where ISIS is active.
The UK head of an international Catholic charity has attacked a government report on human rights violations, saying it "glosses over" the growing problem of persecution against Christians. Neville Kyrke-Smith, national director of Aid to the Church in Need (UK), said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office 2012 Report on Human Rights and Democracy published this week "downplays the scale of Christian persecution". Although he praised the FCO for considering religious freedom issues in its report,
Ten years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, Christian Peacemaker Teams, together with uncounted Iraqi families, are lamenting the carnage that continues to echo from that moment. More than 120,000 civilians have been killed, 4,488 US military and 178 British soldiers lost ther lives. More than 2.7 million Iraqis, among them, a large percentage of the Christian population, have become refugees. Reports sent by the Christian Peacemaker Teams, (CPT) before,
Pope Benedict has called a Synod of bishops of the Chaldean Catholic Church to take place in January, 2013. The aim of the Synod will be to elect a successor to His Beatitude Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, whose resignation was accepted by the Holy Father on Wednesday. With a heritage dating back to the earliest years of Christianity, the Chaldean Church is the largest Christian group in Iraq. There are about half a million Chaldean Catholics in Iraq, in 100 parishes in eight dioceses.
In a frank assessment of the bleak situation facing the Church in the birthplace of Christianity, Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk said that Christian leaders meeting Pope Benedict XVI in Lebanon next weekend (14-16 September) should “go beyond the formalities” to spell out their concerns for the survival of the faith. In a message sent to Aid to the Church in Need just 10 days before the Pontiff’s landmark trip, Archbishop Sako underlined the extent of the Christian exodus from Middle East, saying that it showed no sign of stopping and indeed had spread from Iraq to other countries
The UK director of Aid to the Church in Need has warned Scottish parliamentarians that the Arab Spring is threatening to turn into a disaster for Christians in the Middle East – and Western indifference is making the problem worse. Neville Kyrke-Smith highlighted the plight of Christian communities especially in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt,
Christian communities in Iraq are preparing for a 'Christmas under siege', church authorities reported today. Traditions will be quietly kept in the privacy of family homes, while Christmas Masses will only is celebrated during the day, for safety reasons. "It will be a Christmas, between fear and sturdy faith", Aid to the Church in Need said, as they announced a campaign of solidarity and support for Iraqi Christians.
Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona, and Bishop George Murry, SJ, of Youngstown, Ohio, made a pastoral visit to Baghdad, at the invitation of the bishops of Iraq. They stayed with the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, and visited churches, convents, schools and hospitals in the city. They made the trip as representatives of the USCCB and visited the four Christian communities in Baghdad, the Chaldean, Latin, Armenian and Syrian Catholics.
Christians in one corner of Iraq have trebled in number over the past 15 years according to a leading bishop who is grappling with an influx of people escaping persecution and oppression. The Christian population in Ankawa, a suburb of the Kurdish capital Erbil, has increased from just over 8,500 in the mid-1990s to more than 25,500 today. Of those, up to 1,500 have arrived within the last year alone.
A leading Iraqi bishop has described how Christians in Iraq believe "there is no future" for them there but are afraid to flee abroad because of political uncertainty and crisis in neighbouring countries. Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, in the Kurdish north of Iraq, described the people's shock after father of four Arakan Yacob, an Orthodox Christian, was shot dead
The decapitated body of a Christian man has been discovered in Kirkuk, northern Iraq, a few days after he was kidnapped. Ashur Yacob Issa, 29, was abducted late Friday night or early Saturday morning (13 or 14 May) and his mutilated body was discovered last Monday morning (16 May). His family had been asked for a ransom but was not able to pay
Aid to the Church in Need has published a new report which reveals that Christians suffer 75 per cent of religious persecution in the world. The Archbishop of Westminster, Most Rev Vincent Nichols, and Archbishop Bashar Warder of Erbil, Iraq launched: 'Persecuted and Forgotten? A report on Christians oppressed for their Faith' in London on Thursday.
Plans for a university and a hospital in northern Iraq are being seen as 'symbols of hope', enabling Christians to build a future away from the violence and intimidation that have caused so many to flee the country. The two initiatives planned for Ankawa, a suburb of the Kurdish capital, Erbil, passed a crucial hurdle yesterday,
A senior cleric in Iraq has said that Christians are being systematically attacked, with the intention of driving them out of the country. Archdeacon Emanuel Youkhana said that neither the government nor the international community had done enough to stem the ongoing exodus of Christians in the region.
Nearly 100 legislators from 15 countries around the world have urged President Obama to act on behalf of Iraq's besieged Christians. The organisers hope that other legislators will add their names. Many thanks to Lord Alton for sending this to us. The letter is now at the White House and will today be presented in original to National Security Advisor Tom Donilon,
Attacks on Christians in Iraq have escalated in recent weeks, with hundreds of families fleeing persecution in Mosul and Baghdad. Aid to the Church in Need is providing emergency aid which is being distributed by the Chaldean Sisters of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate, like Sister Merna (pictured).
A special Mass was for all those who have died or were injured in recent weeks in Iraq, especially in the bombing of Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad on 31 October 2010 was held at Westminster Cathedral this evening.
At noon yesterday, about 350 people gathered in front of parliament demonstrating against the massacre which took place on 31 October, in Baghdad at the Our Lady of Deliverance Cathedral, the Seat of the Syriac Bishop of Baghdad. The demonstrators were asking that the British government condemns the attack and to put pressure on the Iraqi government to afford more protection to the Iraqi Christians living in Iraq.
Recent violence in Iraq has led Iraqi church leaders to issue a new statement calling on “all government officials and political parties in order to give priority to the public interest and the security of citizens.” The statement, by the Council of the Christian Church Leaders of Iraq (CCCLI), came after an emergency meeting of the council in Qaraqosh.
The document says: "Pax Christi International would like to draw the attention of the Human Rights Council to the gross and systematic human rights violations of the minorities in Iraq. Iraq's minorities including Yazidis, Shabaks, Turkoman and Assyrian Christians are facing a human rights catastrophe.
Fear and shock today are the dominant feeling among the Christians of Mosul, Fides was told by a Chaldean priest of the local church, requesting anonymity for security reasons. The ferocity and horror of the "truly cold-blooded murders" of four Christians in the last four days
The man who has become the world’s youngest Catholic archbishop has spoken of his “hopes and confidence” as he takes up his role as shepherd to some of Iraq’s most persecuted Christians. At just 42, Amil Shamaaoun Nona has been ordained Archbishop of Mosul in northern Iraq.
The Diocese of Mosul in northern Iraq is celebrating the long-awaited appointment of Rev Emil Shimoun Nona as its new archbishop. Pope Benedict XVI yesterday approved his canonical election by the Synod of Bishops of the Chaldean Church. Rev Nona succeeds Mgr Paul Faraj Rahho who was abducted and murdered in March 2008.
Many Catholic and Anglican priests from London today supported a call by the Archbishop of Canterbury urging the US government and the international community to protect 3,500 Iranian refugees in Camp Ashraf in Iraq, and in particular 36 people who are being held while on hunger strike
An international Pax Christi delegation visited Iraq last week. They went to Kirkuk, Mosul, Erbil and Dohuk from 10 September to 17 September. The situation for the Iraqi people is very uncertain and more violence being expected in the period leading up to the elections in January 2010.
In the midst of so much suffering, pain, denied rights, and discrimination, the Catholic Church in Iraq has good news: on 6 November,