Got news? No midnight Christmas Mass in Iraq

It’s rare to find a major story that makes liberals as well as conservatives nervous to the point that they hesitate to talk about it. Stories of this kind often fail to find their way into digital or analog ink.

If reporters ask political conservatives what they think of the impact of the Iraqi war on religious minorities — especially the nation’s ancient and persecuted Christian and Jewish communities — the result is likely to be silence. This is one of the toughest elements of the conflict for many political conservatives to discuss.


Consider this Doonesbury cartoon strip from this week as an example of what this can look like.

But what about the left? Political liberals are also not anxious to discuss this subject, in part because it reveals the dark side of majority rule in this land and in other parts of the region. It requires reporters to focus on the violent actions of some — repeat, some — Muslims in Iraq who do not want to tolerate the freedom or even existence of despised religious communities.

Thus, we have a classic “Got news?” story, as we draw closer and closer to Christmas. Here is a Catholic News Service report with the key details (since this is clearly just a Catholic or “conservative” news story):

LONDON (CNS) — Chaldean Catholic officials have canceled traditional Christmas Eve midnight Masses because of security risks.

Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk in northern Iraq told the agency Aid to the Church in Need that Christians will spend Christmas in “great fear” because of the risk of new attacks.

All services and Masses have been scheduled for daylight hours, he said in an interview with Rome-based AsiaNews.

“Midnight Christmas Mass has been canceled in Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk as a consequence of the never-ending assassinations of Christians,” he said, citing the Oct. 31, 2010, attack on the Syrian Catholic cathedral that left 57 people dead in the Iraqi capital.

Archbishop Sako also expressed concern over the growing conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims vying for political power. He said the conflict has led to growing instability, especially in the days since the pullout of U.S. military troops in mid-December.

And so forth and so on.

Now, it is possible that this highly symbolic and timely story is about to go live at CNN or some other high-profile site, drawing the attention of other news organizations. That could happen, as journalists look for Christmas stories to cover. That could happen.

But there is little sign of that online at the moment. Consider, for example, this typical Google search, which only finds a Washington Examiner blog item and some “religious,” and “conservative” news hits.

This is a rather obvious story, at this point. The Al Jazeera report at the top? It’s from last year.