Church, convent bombed in Iraq

Brooklyn, N.Y., Nov 30, 2009 / 02:01 pm (CNA).- On Thursday Nov. 26, St. Ephrem’s Chaldean Church and the nearby presbytery in the Northern City of Mosul were destroyed when attackers walked in and detonated high explosives. Both buildings were empty at the time and no one was injured.

According to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) a second bombing occurred shortly after at St. Theresa’s Convent which is a few minutes drive away from church and presbytery. Although five Sisters where present in the building when the attack took place, no one was injured.

“We are in total shock,” said one of the sisters to ACN. “The sheer noise of the bomb and the damage it caused terrified us.”

Senior Iraqi priest Fr. Bashar Warda, who has helped coordinate aid after the attacks, told ACN that “we are at a loss to explain why this should have happened” although he speculated that the bombings may have political motives in the run-up to elections next year.

The attacks have come after what many have viewed as a time of peace for Christians in Mosul. Although thousands had left the area last fall after similar attacks, many had returned in hope of a new beginning.

“The Christian people in Mosul were really surprised by these attacks that have just taken place,” said Fr. Bashar Warda. “Things were gradually becoming normalized and many felt that security had improved. What has happened now has put a stop to the optimism.”

In a recent message to ACN, Pope Benedict XVI stated that the Church in the Middle East is “threatened in its very existence” and support for it has been a top priority of the charity.