[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfGPejGIjz8&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Erantrave%2Ecom%2FRant%2FIraqi%2DChristians%2Din%2DDanger%2Dof%2DExtinction%2Easpx&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]Iraqi Christians are in danger of disappearing, and the Vatican has spoken up in their defense. The Catholic News Service reports as follows.
“A leading Vatican official called for greater protection of Iraq’s beleaguered Christian minority, saying the disappearance of Christianity from the country would be an enormous religious and cultural loss for everyone.
Archbishop Fernando Filoni, who served as the Vatican’s nuncio to Iraq from 2001 to 2006, said it was important that Iraqi Christians stem the widespread emigration of their community. That can only happen if they are given a sound basis for hope in the future, he said.
“The authorities must do everything they can so that Christians are a respected and integral part of the life of the country, even if they are a minority,” Archbishop Filoni said in an interview Aug. 11 with the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.
“The Iraqi government meets regularly with church leaders and in theory is committed to protecting Christians, but “this also has to be translated into concrete facts,” he said.
The archbishop pointed to the recent restitution of three church-run schools as an important step in the right direction. The schools, two in Baghdad and one in Kirkuk, will be run by Chaldean Catholic nuns, who managed them before they were nationalized under Saddam Hussein.
“This seems to be an important signal that offers hope and indicates appreciation for the contribution Christians can give to the future of the Iraqi nation,” he said.
“Even today, many Muslims remain grateful for the education they received in the Christian schools,” he said.”
Iraq’s Christians are a living link to the pre Islamic past of that country. Although the majority speak Arabic and pray in Aramaic, a small minority actually speaks Aramaic in their daily lives. The Christians of Iraq are divided into Chaldeans, who pledge loyalty to Rome and have their own liturgy and Orthodox Christians of both the Syrian and Armenian Rite. In addition, there are Nestorians, A Christian denomination that was once persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church. All Christians in Iraq were relegated to third class citizenship under successive Islamic governments over the centuries.
There is a tiny minority of Jews, most of whom have migrated to Israel who still speak Aramaic. The Talmud is of course in Aramaic, written in a Hebrew rather than a Syriac alphabet. Assyrian, like Hebrew is a semitic language. The names for its letters are the same as those for the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The five letters in Hebrew that take final forms take final forms in Assyrian as well. The survival of Assyrians in our time is of interest to Jews, who were once exiled in what is today Iraq.
There is only so much knowledge of our collective past that can be derived from archaeology. When a minority survives as a living community, it transmits its historic narrative, folkways and beliefs to following generations. When source of collective memory is lost, the general society loses a context in which to see itself.
It is fortunate that the Roman Catholic Church has finally found its voice in defending Christians in Iraq. It is sad enough when artifacts are destroyed as they have been in Israel and Afghanistan by Muslim fanatics. But when people are destroyed to make way for a history made of lies, the tragedy deepens exponentially.
Heinrich Heine once said “”Where they burn books, so too will they in the end burn human beings.” Books, artifacts and human beings stand as contradictory witnesses to a past that is inconvenient to those who would shape our future. When you read about burning books and terrorising Christians and other minorities in Iraq, you are witnessing a crime. And what does a criminal do after committing a crime? He gets rid of witnesses.
Below are links to a Dutch documentary about the persecution of Christians in Iraq. It is subtitled. It will be well worth your while to stop the video as often as needed to keep up with the subtitles.
Iraq’s Christians deserve to live safely in Iraq. If this is not possible, they should be admitted to the US, where they have proven to be among the most grateful of immigrant groups
Reprinted with permission from Magdeburgerjoe.com