Iraqi bishop urges prayer as Christians expelled from Mosul

Archbishop Bashar Warda of the Chaldean Archeparchy of Erbil, whither many Christians from Mosul have fled in recent weeks. Credit: Aid to the Church in Need.

On the eve of an ultimatum issued by Islamists to Christians in the Iraqi city of Mosul, the Chaldean bishop of Erbil, in nearby Kurdistan, urged prayers for the nation's remaining followers of Christ.

“We have hope that things will get better,” Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda of the Chaldean Archeparchy of Erbil said in an interview with CNA on July 16.

“But … from the circumstances, which we are following, it looks like it’s going to take some time.”

A militant Sunni organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has been steadily attacking cities and communities in north and northwestern Iraq since June. The attacks have begun dividing Iraq along religious and ethnic lines.

On Friday, July 18, ISIS issued an ultimatum to the Christians of the city of Mosul, which it captured more than a month ago: convert to Islam, pay the jizya, or be killed.

The cross a top the city's Syriac Orthodox cathedral was removed.

“They control the city and I think they made it very clear that there is no place for non-Muslims in the city,” Archbishop Warda said.

Thousands of Christians have fled Mosul, seeking refuge in Christian villages in the surrounding Nineveh Plains and in Kurdistan.

The charity Aid to the Church in Need sent a grant of more than $135,000 to provide food and shelter for the displaced in the region. Archbishop Amel Nona of Mosul told the charity in a recent interview that schools, church halls and abandoned houses have opened up to receive displaced persons from Mosul.

Recent U.N. estimates place the number of internally displaced Iraqis at 1.2 million, nearly half of whom have been driven from homes in the western province of Anbar. Many of those internally displaced are seeking refuge in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, which is known for its peace and stability.

Archbishop Warda said he has noticed an influx of refugees in Erbil over the past month. He said most refugees are renting out rooms or apartments from locals.

“(It's) crowded, yes, and expensive, which is also another issue” the archbishop explained. “But, that's the situation.”

He lamented that many Iraqis have been living in a state of crisis for many years.

“We hope that things will get better (and) will improve for the lives of those people,” he said.

“But from what we are observing, it's not promising.”


Voices

Seeking the face of God in the Scriptures

Archbishop José H. Gomez

Prayer is seeking the face of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls the story of how St. John Vianney once found a peasant praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The saint asked him what he was doing, and the man replied: “I look at him and he looks at me.”

Events

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February 13, 2016

  • Saturday, February 13

    World Day of the Sick Mass, Mass and Anointing of the Sick, 12:30 p.m., Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels,  555 W Temple St, Los Angeles. Archbishop Gomez presiding with other bishops and priests. Special section designated for those in wheelchairs with volunteers available to help. Limited parking available for $8. Carpooling is encouraged. For more info: Chuck Huebner at cjhuebner @gmail.com or Jim LoCoco at flavialococ0@msn.com.

     

     

    Bosco Tech’s Yurak Memorial Run & Kids’ Fun Run, Check in begins at 8 a.m., Memorial Run at 9 a.m., Fun Run at 10 a.m., Bosco Tech, 1151 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead. Race registration is $35 per person. For school groups of 10 or more, the cost is $30. To register online, go to www.boscotech.edu/events or www.yurak.eventbrite.com; same-day registration available at check-in table. Included: racing fees, finisher medal, goodie bag and BBQ lunch. Plaques will be awarded to the top five male and female runners and to the fastest runner under 18.All proceeds to benefit Bosco Tech’s Yurak Athletic Center (YAC). 

     

    Cabrini Literary Guild “Sweetheart Bingo” Meeting, Sat., Feb.13 at Oakmont Country Club, 3100 Country Club Drive, Glendale. Meeting starts at 11 a.m., lunch at 12 p.m. ($30/person), and bingo social at 1 p.m. Bingo cards are $5 each, or $20 for five cards. For reservations, call (818) 790-3485.

     

    Footprints: Making Tracks for Neighbors in Need, 8:30 - 11:30 a.m., Bishop Amat High School track, 14301 Fairgrove Ave., La Puente. Catholic Charities San Gabriel Region will present this annual walk/run fundraiser to increase awareness about poverty, hunger and homelessness in the San Gabriel Region. Proceeds benefit those lacking basic needs, such as food, clothing, transportation and shelter. This is a come anytime, leave anytime event, with the first lap around the track to be led by Bishop David O'Connell. For more information, visit lentenfootprints.yolasite.com or contact Mary Romero at (213) 251-3582 or mromero@ccharities.org.

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