As an international military offensive moves toward Mosul, liberating towns from the hold of the Islamic State, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako has visited towns on the Nineveh Plains, and seen the destruction and desecration of Christian churches.
The Chaldean prelate said that he is hopeful Christian refugees who fled from the Islamic State will soon return to their homes in the region—which he described as “our holy land.” He said that religious leaders of all denominations should join in building a “culture of peace and harmonious coexistence.”
Speaking from New York, another Iraqi prelate said that it may take a year before Christians are able to settle once again into their old homes in and around Mosul. Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said that refugees will face enormous challenges as they labor to rebuild their communities.
Archbishop Warda said that in his own archdiocese, about 80% of the Christian population want to remain, despite the threats to their security. But he vowed that even if many more families leave, the Church will continue to serve those who remains, and “there will always be Christians in Iraq.”