Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Chaldean Church in Iraq
Chaldean Catholic Priest Martyr

So, during my prayer of Thanksgiving I mentioned the plight of the ancient Christians in Iraq. They are the folks still speaking a form of Aramaic, that language spoken in the time of Jesus.

The video I found is of a funeral in Iraq. The voice you hear singing is the voice of Father Ragheed Ganni. On June 03, 2007 this Chaldean Priest and three deacons were driving home after celebrating mass at Holy Spirit Chaldean Catholic Church in Mosul Iraq. Their car was stopped by terrorists/sectarians/gunmen (the choice is yours) and they were forced to declare their submission to Islam. When they refused they were gunned downed. The congregants pray not for revenge but for repentance.

For 2000 years this tiny community existed side by side with their Iraqi countrymen. Since the 600s they lived next to their Islamic neighbors in relative peace. Not today, not during this civil/sectarian war.

I am reminded of Gandhi who said, “An eye for an eye and soon the whole world is blind”.

The song the late father sings is a hymn to the Holy Mother. In translation he sings:
We honor you with hymns O Mother of God, you are the pride of the whole earth, because the Word of God whom the Father sent, chose to take His human body from you. The generations call you blessed, all nations and people's honor you and ask for mercy by your prayers. You are a generous earth in which plants of joy always grow

These ancient Christians are leaving Iraq. After 2000 years of uninterrupted cultural contribution to the land of Babylon, Ur and the Chaldeans, they are leaving. After living side by side with the followers of the Prophet they are leaving. This is not a Christian-Islamic battle. All over Iraq neighbors are fighting neighbors. Shia and Sunni are fighting each other, Turkish Kurds are endangering Iraqi Kurds. This is a nation in chaos. This is a fight to control what is left after the war ends. This is a fight this tiny community can not hope to win or even engage in.

The fear among anthropologists is that once they leave their communities and are relocated in various small communities around the globe the culture will die. The people will live, but the spoken language of Jesus, the descendant culture of the early church and of the apostles will cease to exist. There is far too much suffering, loss and destruction in this ill thought out war.


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

21st Century Christian Martyrs
Thank you for this touching portrait of the Holy New Martyr Ragheed