Iraq priests ordained in refugee camp give hope for people to stay in war-torn country

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Chiqui Guyjoco
Three priests ordained in the Iraqi refugee camp of Erbil gives hope to thousands of Christians to stay in the war-torn country despite threats of imminent danger.
A Syriac-Catholic Church in Aishty 2 refugee camp in Erbil marked Friday — a day before the second year anniversary since the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS or Daesh) militia raided most parts of Iraq and Syria and forced about 5,500 people to take refuge in the camp – as a day of ordination for Fr. Roni Salim Momika, Fr. Emad and Fr. Petros.
(Reuters/Ahmed Saad)Iraqi Christians attend mass on Christmas at St. Joseph Chaldean Church in Baghdad, December 25, 2013.

Fr. Momika expressed his desire “to stand with the refugees” and to bring them closer to Christ. He added that he desired to give them “power, hope, and courage to continue their lives and stay with the poor people.” He also said that their ordination gave the Iraqi Christians renewed hope “to stay here.”

“Before it was a bad day because we became refuges and ISIS entered to Qaraqosh, but now this day became a good day because it’s our ordination and we give hope to our people,” the newly-ordained young priest told Catholic News Agency (CNA).

The notion of whether Iraqi Christians should stay behind their home country or flee for safety remains a contention among church leaders. On one hand, Patriarch Louis Sako, head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, insisted that Christians should “live and die in the place where God calls us.”

On the opposing end sits the faction of Bishop Sarhad Jammo, who supports the resettlement of the Chaldean Christian communities in the Iraq and Syria.

“You cannot preserve a culture when the people are being systematically exterminated,” Mark Arabo, national spokesperson of the American-Chaldean community, told Fox News.

In another heavily conflicted area, Carmelite nuns in Aleppo, Syria chose to stay behind with the remaining 40,000 impoverished Christians.

According to the Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Sister Anne-Françoise of Discalced Carmelite Sisters described the situation in Aleppo as one that’s deprived of basic necessities such as water and electricity and only has incessant fighting and bomb-shelling.

She added that “the bombs are falling all around us, but we are not going to leave the people in their suffering.”