Saturday, July 5, 2008
Iraqi Christians Need Our Help Now
What will we say when we meet St. Thomas the Apostle? What will we tell him about his legacy, the Eastern Churches of Iraq? For 2000 years the Christians of this nation survived persecution, changing empires, Islamic Dynasties and Western Colonialism. And now, in a matter of seven years they face extinction, extinction.
These are the Chaldean (Catholic) Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church, and the Assyrian Church of the East. Their liturgies are in Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Twenty years ago there were 1.4 million Christians in Iraq. After the Gulf War their numbers dropped to 800,000. Today there are perhaps 400,000 left in the nation. The exodus of refugees is estimated to be 2,000 a day.
Iraq is a nation of modern martyrs. Persecution against the Christian minority is pronounced and effective. Baghdad will soon be empty of Christians, this was a center of Iraqi Christians. Where the Christians go, to Nineveh, Mosul, Kurd territories they are caught in the middle of conflict. In a nation of competing interests and forces they are a people without a militia and without powerful allies. Of the Western nations only Germany has publicly spoke of the plight of these ancient Christians and only the Pope has called out for an end to the violence against these people.
It is time to demand our leaders take responsibility for this situation thy helped create. It time we called for financial support, prayer support and material support for these people. They need their own police force, they need infrastructure, health care, educational systems. They need so much of what has been taken from them over the last 20 years and especially the last seven years. Without such assistance this culture is doomed to extinction in a very short period of time.
So, what will we say to St. Thomas when we meet him?
Iraqi Christians Assyrian Chaldean Syrian