Security levels for Iraqi Christians must be raised

By  Catholic Register Special
  • November 4, 2010
Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III YounanThe Syrian Catholic Patriarch has criticized the failure of Iraqi security forces to protect Christian churches and beseeched world governments to come to the aid of  the innocent Christians who are being “brutally singled out because of their religion.”

Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan was in Canada when terrorists murdered at least 58 Sunday worshippers Oct. 31 at Baghdad’s Our Lady of Salvation Church. In an e-mail to Catholic News Service, he criticized the lax security for Christian places of worship and called on “Iraqi parties to overcome their personal and confessional interests and look for the good of the Iraqi people who have elected them.”

“There are a few churches and Christian institutions left in Baghdad, not so great a number that it is not unreasonable for them to be protected, security-wise,” he said, adding that government security is “far less than what we have hoped for and requested.”

“Christians are slaughtered in Iraq, in their homes and churches, and the so-called ‘free’ world is watching in complete indifference, interested only in responding in a way that is politically correct and economically opportune, but in reality is hypocritical,” he said.

He demanded that the U.S. Congress, the United Nations and the League of Arabic States “take the appropriate action to defend innocent Christians brutally singled out because of their religion in Iraq and some other Middle Eastern countries.”

In Toronto, Archbishop Hanna Zora of the Good Shepherd Chaldean Catholic Church, home to 1,650 families, asked for prayers that Christians in Iraq will “keep the faith strongly and faithfully.”  

“Together we pray with these people in this tragedy and we ask the intercession of Our Lady to help them,” he said.

In Ottawa, Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, and Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, condemned the attacks.

“The hostage taking of parishioners and the setting off of deadly explosives in a crowded place of worship are acts of savagery that have absolutely no place in civilized human society,” Kenney said.

“We condemn in the strongest terms those who would conduct such a cowardly, vicious and senseless attack on innocent civilians in a place of worship,” Cannon said.

Three days before the attacks, Archbishop Thomas Collins, addressing the annual Cardinal’s Dinner in Toronto, spoke passionately about the difficult situation facing the Middle East’s vulnerable Christian minority and encouraged an audience of more than 1,700 to get involved.

Among several ways to help, he urged people to contact governments and encourage the media to report on the suffering of Middle East Christians; to offer solidarity and financial support by travelling to the Middle East; to support institutions and organizations such as Bethlehem University and CNEWA; and to engage in efforts to sponsor refugee families to Canada.

Collins spoke of his hope that Christianity would once again flourish in the Middle East, “so that peoples of all faiths can live in harmony with one another.”

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