Iraq’s Christians look to Rome and the West

1_0_4289721.JPGInaugurating the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East Churches Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the Christian Diaspora from the region, today found in many Western countries, such as Europe, Australia, Canada and the U.S. He urged them to actively support their original communities in the Holy Land, Iraq, Syria Jordan, Lebanon so they may be “the harbingers of the good fruits for the present and for the future of the beloved Middle Eastern populations”.

But the Pope also spoke of one of the reasons why many Christians choose or are forced to leave their homeland; insecurity. Iraq is perhaps one of the region’s worst affected by emigration. Of the estimated 1.4 million Christians, mainly Chaldeans, Assyrians and Armenians, who lived in the country before the US led invasion, an estimated 500 thousand have fled and although security conditions have improved somewhat, that trend has yet to be reversed.

Speaking to Vatican Radio, Chaldean Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim of St Thomas in Detroit says “it is very important for Christians in the Middle East to feel and see the support of other Christians around the world, especially the support of the Vatican”.

Bishop Ibrahim adds “Christians in the Middle East even though they are of different rites, still all believe in Jesus Christ. They need unity and support from the West. Some are living in very hard circumstances, some are even persecuted for their faith for their faith, like the Christians in Iraq”.

“The Holy Father told us not to be discouraged. We should have faith in Christ and be of one heart and one mind like the Christians in the first century”.