Iraqi Christian church plans Easter renewal

churchx-large1.jpgSaints Peter and Paul Church in the south Baghdad district of Dora will reopen on Easter Sunday, nearly two years after being shuttered
By Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY
BAGHDAD — Easter services are planned at one of Baghdad’s biggest churches for the first time in two years as Iraqi Christians return to homes they had deserted because of violence.
Saints Peter and Paul Church had been closed since mid-2007 as insurgents and sectarian militias targeted Iraq’s 800,000-strong Christian community. The number of Christians in southern Baghdad’s Dora neighborhood, their onetime stronghold, dwindled to a few dozen families as many were killed or fled the country.

SECURITY: Many Iraqi Christians remain doubtful

Thanks to improving security, as many as 800 Christian families have returned to Dora in the past six months, says Col. Samir al-Timimi, the Iraqi police commander for the district.

By reopening the church starting with Sunday’s Mass, Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni hopes to send a message to other Christian families that it is time to come back to Baghdad. They “need to know that without them, our community will disappear,” Warduni said