Iraqi Christianity May Soon Be Persecuted to Its End, Archbishop Warns

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Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda of Iraq is warning that Christianity in his country is close to disappearing. “One of the oldest Churches, if not the oldest Church in the world, is perilously close to extinction. Those

of us who remain must be ready to face martyrdom,” Archbishop Warda, a Chaldean Catholic cleric who’s archbishop of Erbil in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, said in a recent address in London to Christian British lawmakers. The picture for Christianity is mixed in the Middle East. In February, Pope Francis celebrated a Mass in the United Arab Emirates that drew 135,000 migrant Catholics. In Saudi Arabia, the first Christian Mass was allowed this past December. But Christians in Iraq have faced more than 1,4000 years of religious persecution. The long-standing abuse is culminating in a rapid decline, signalling a possible end to Catholicism in the majority-Muslim nation, BBC News reported on its website on May 23. Since the United States invaded the country in 2003 to oust then-dictator Saddam Hussein, Archbishop Warda has seen the Christian community decline from 1.5 million members to 250,000 now. He attributes the drop to the presence of ISIS in Iraq, He cited one ISIS attack in 2014 that resulted in the displacement of more than 125,000 Christians. “Our tormentors confiscated our present,” he said in London, according to the BBC report, “while seeking to wipe out our history and destroy our future. In Iraq there is no redress for those who have lost properties, homes and businesses. Tens of thousands of Christians have nothing to show for their life’s work, for generations of work, in places where their families have lived, maybe, for thousands of years.” While jihadists have continued to be expelled from cities in the Middle East, in the process Christian churches, monasteries and homes have been targeted and destroyed, driving families out of Iraq in droves. Meanwhile, Sunni and Shiite Muslims continue to fight, with more jihadists hiding out throughout the country, leaving little hope for Christians in Iraq. “Friends, we may be facing our end in the land of our ancestors,” Archbishop Warda said in his London address. “We acknowledge this. In our end, the entire world faces a moment of truth.” Tags: Christian persecution, Christianity, Iraq, Middle East Previous International News Story Leave a Com