Iraqi Christians need action, prayers and solidarity, WCC says

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has called on the UN and the Iraqi government “to quell the violence” targeted to Christians in Iraq and has urged its member churches and partners worldwide to “pray for peace and reconciliation” in the country.

The WCC has been in contact with officials of the United Nations and of the Iraqi government, “lobbying for swift action to quell the violence in Iraq and to thwart activities aimed at the expulsion of Christians and other minority populations,” the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia wrote in a 14 October letter to the churches in Iraq.

Since 28 September, attacks targeted at Christians in the northern city of Mosul have killed about 14 people and have led some 1,500 Christian families to flee their homes in the area.

“We have heard that people are being killed, houses bombed, thousands are fleeing their homes, and churches and church properties are being destroyed,” Kobia wrote, expressing “anguish and great concern” about the “terrible acts of violence in Mosul during the past week”.

We “are urging all our member churches and partners to pray for peace and reconciliation in Iraq,” as well as for all of those “who suffer the consequences of violence and for all who are striving to restore trust and goodwill among people and communities,” Kobia wrote.

Kobia announced to the Iraqi churches that the WCC is organizing a solidarity visit to the country. Ecumenical representatives from several countries would visit Mosul and Baghdad in order to meet members of diverse communities and demonstrate solidarity “to those who are under threat”.

The WCC general secretary also encouraged Iraqi Christians to remain in their country. “Knowing that your situation is extremely difficult in this moment, we encourage you – in so far as it is possible – to remain in your land and to bear witness there. […] Your presence in the land is an assurance that Christianity continues to endure; you are a sign of hope to people of faith everywhere,” Kobia wrote.

Since the US-led invasion in 2003, more than 200 Christians have been killed in Iraq, dozens of churches bombed and more than half of the Christian population has left the country.

Full text of the WCC general secretary letter to the Iraqi churches:
http://www.oikoumene.org/?id=6358

Statement from the Middle East Council of Churches
http://www.mec-churches.org/statements/MouselIraq.html

http://www2.wcc-coe.org/pressreleasesfr.nsf/index/pr-08-95.html