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Iraqi archbishop remains hopeful: ‘there will always be Christians’ here

Thursday, October 27, 2016 23:17
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Erbil, Iraq, Oct 28, 2016 / 12:03 am (Aid to the Church in Need).- Iraqi Christians stranded in Kurdistan have some reason for hope, now that the battle for Mosul and the Nineveh Plane has begun. However, the Chaldean archbishop who, for two years now, has played a pivotal role in taking care of the humanitarian and spiritual needs of the exiled community, urges caution in painting too rosy a picture for Iraq’s embattled minorities.

“Iran, Turkey and the Kurds all have a stake in Mosul” and the surrounding area, Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, the Iraqi Kurdish capital, told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need; even after Mosul is retaken from Islamic State – and odds are that will happen before the end of the year – a bitter power struggle would likely put Christians seeking to return to their abandoned homes in harm’s way.

For now, the prelate stressed, no concrete plan is in place to protect the Christians and other minorities upon their return to Mosul and the Nineveh Plane. He predicted it would at least take close to a year before a significant degree of homecoming would be possible.

Meanwhile, the archbishop, who was in New York as the guest of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, continues to care for the flock in Erbil and surroundings, which means drumming up considerable funding to ensure that families of internally displaced persons can pay their rent, that homes can be heated, that there will be food on the table, and that schools are functioning.

For the past two years, the Chaldean Archeparchy of Erbil has received more than $31 million in funding from Aid to the Church in Need, in addition to support from 16 other Catholic organizations from around the world.

Contrary to some reports, the archbishop insists that 80 percent of the people under his care wish to remain in Iraq. But he adds that “even if the number drops to 10,000 families”, or some 60,000 people, – down from the current estimated total of 250,000 Christians, including those living in Baghdad – “there will always be Christians in Iraq.”

Archbishop Warda stressed that the Christians bound to stay are not just those who cannot afford to leave – on the contrary, he cites a good number of affluent families who are determined to remain in Iraq, be it in Kurdistan or Iraq proper.  Several of them have already started successful businesses in Erbil.

A clear sign of confidence in this future for the local Church, the archbishop has established the Catholic University of Erbil and fundraising for the institution brought him to the United States.

Leaving aside the intractable enmity between Shiites and Sunnis – and the growing tensions between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia – Archbishop Warda said the biggest obstacle in the way of long-term security for Christians and other minorities is Islamic radicalism.

“Islam needs reform and, unlike Christian violence that was committed [through] misinterpretation of Scripture, there is a call to violence in the Koran – and that needs addressing,” he said.

It will be a task for courageous Muslim leaders, he continued, and “maybe, just maybe, Christians can lend them a hand.”

Surely, the study of the Quran and Islamic tradition will figure prominently at the new Catholic University of Erbil.


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  • jknbt

    the Bible plainly says that Christians must get out of Iraq in the end times. See Jer. 51:45-48

    “Come out of her, my people!
    Run for your lives!
    Run from the fierce anger of the Lord.
    46 Do not lose heart or be afraid
    when rumors are heard in the land;
    one rumor comes this year, another the next,
    rumors of violence in the land
    and of ruler against ruler.
    47 For the time will surely come
    when I will punish the idols of Babylon;
    her whole land will be disgraced
    and her slain will all lie fallen within her.
    48 Then heaven and earth and all that is in them
    will shout for joy over Babylon,
    for out of the north
    destroyers will attack her,”
    declares the Lord.

    Another scripture is Rev. 18: 2-5:

    “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! 3 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”

    4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached[b] to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.

    Sorry, Bishop Warda, that you will lose your flock. Don’t you understand that judgement is coming? Would you prefer that they be destroyed in the coming plagues? Don’t you Catholics ever study the Bible? How can you miss this sort of a warning? God doesn’t want the Christians killed when he judges the Antichrist and his religion. It really is time to get out of Babylon (Iraq) while you can.

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