Iraqi Church is alive,’ bishop declares as Iraq violence declines

Baghdad, Iraq, Jul 2, 2010 / 12:43 am (CNA).- A leading bishop in Iraq has that violence has decreased in the country, but advises continued vigilance. Neither terrorism nor fear have been defeated, he reported, urging the establishment of a strong and broadly supported government. “The Iraqi Church is alive,” he declared in an interview.

Figures published by Iraq’s Defense, Health and Interior Ministers show the number of Iraqis killed in violent action in June was 284, with 204 civilian deaths, 50 policemen and 30 military. This figure is less than the 437 killed in June 2009. In May 2010, 337 people were killed including as many as 275 civilians.

The number of violent injuries is also down from 718 in May to 610 in June, SIR News reports.

Citing the independent website, SIR says that 4,409 U.S. servicemen have been killed since 2003, including 10 who died last month.

“Violence has decreased, but we must keep alert and not lower the guard,” Bishop Shlemon Warduni, the Chaldean Patriarchal Vicar of Baghdad, told SIR. “Terrorist attacks are going on, even if with fewer victims, but that does not mean that terrorism has been defeated, nor has fear. There is always fear of a car bomb or a kamikaze blowing you up.”

“People must be alert,” he repeated. The best way to bring down the violence, he said, is to “work hard to establish a new Government that must be strong and supported by all the Iraqis who are tired of this life and are even scared of the future. And this is not acceptable, we must live in the hope of rebuilding Iraq.”

U.S. and Iraqi officers have warned about the risks of a new outbreak of violence if negotiations to establish a new government last too long and allow rebel groups the chance to destabilize the country.

The bishop said this reconstruction effort is made more difficult by neighboring countries “which still let the terrorists cross the borders and which want to use the assets of our country.”

In the present situation, he added, Christian communities “do not fail to give their contribution in terms of deeds and hope, despite many sufferings.”

“The Iraqi Church is alive, as proven by the Chaldean nuns who will take their vows in Karamles tomorrow and by the ordination of the new bishop of Erbil, Bashar Warda,” Bishop Warduni told SIR