Life in Iraq like Way of the Cross

VATICAN CITY (CNS): Iraq’s leading churchman said the situation in parts of his country remained “disastrous and tragic”, and he said Church leaders were risking their lives daily to proclaim the Gospel.

Chaldean Catholic patriarch Cardinal Emmanuel-Karim Delly of Baghdad made his comments on October 14 at the Synod of Bishops on the Bible. His speech received a huge round of applause from the more than 200 bishops present at the Rome synod.

Cardinal Delly said life in Iraq was like a Way of the Cross for many people.

“Peace and security are lacking, just as the basic elements for daily life are lacking,” he said.

“There continue to be shortages of electricity, water and gasoline, telephone communication is increasingly difficult, roads are blocked, the schools are closed or endangered, hospitals run on a reduced staff and people fear for their safety.”

Cardinal Delly noted that 16 priests and two bishops in Iraq had been abducted and released after payment of ransom.

Some Church personnel, he said, including Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mosul, three priests and six young people, had been killed and today “belong to the ranks of the new martyrs who are praying for us in heaven”.

Cardinal Delly spoke after fresh reports of violence against Iraqi Christians in Mosul.

Two Christians were killed in mid-October, one in his home and one in his place of business; at least 10 other Christians have been killed in the area since late September.

Police were deployed on the streets of Mosul to stem the violence by criminal gangs against Christian targets.

Hundreds of Christian families were said to have fled Mosul in the first two weeks of October.