The Catholic Register responds to crisis in Iraq

  • April 19, 2010

Iraqi ChristiansFawaz Fatohi received an envelope at his home containing a knife and an anonymous letter: “If you don’t leave Iraq, you will be killed.”

Fatohi is an Iraqi Christian. He was raising a young family in Baghdad when the death threat arrived. Soon thereafter he was among an estimated half-million Iraqi Christians who had fled for their lives. He eventually found refuge in Canada, leaving behind his forsaken brothers in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

In March, The Catholic Register sent Associate Editor Michael Swan to Syria and Lebanon to chronicle the unfolding tragedy of the Christian cleansing of Iraq. It was an ambitious undertaking, but one we felt compelled to undertake.

Archbishop Thomas Collins has called the persecution of Iraqi Christians “an issue of profound moral importance.” Because they are Christian, they are being threatened, beaten, violated and sometimes killed. Forced to run, their homes are often occupied, their businesses shut down, their churches bombed. Yet their persecution is largely unreported.

Inside this special section are stories and photos of distraught families that Swan broke bread with in Lebanon and Syria, as well as the heartening stories of some who made it to Canada. Swan also reviews the historic and political background and looks at how the church, governments and other agencies are responding to the crisis.

Meanwhile, Register reporters in Toronto examined the important work of the Office for Refugees of the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT), which has helped several parishes sponsor refugees and has ambitious plans to welcome many more. In addition to our newspaper coverage, Swan has created a multi-media presentation of photos and narrative that is well worth seeing on our web site,

As Catholics, we should be informed about the plight of our brothers in faith, and as Christians feel a duty to respond.

Jim O’Leary
Publisher and Editor


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