Return, Iraqi bishops urge displaced Christians

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by Greg Daly
Timothaeus Mosa Alshamany,Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and prior of the Monastery of Saint Matthew, Syriac Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Petros Mouche of Mosul, Father Halemba, Head of the Middle East section for ACN, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Nicodemus Daoud Matti Sharaf of Mosul, Kirkuk and Kurdistan, Chaldean Catholic Bishop Mikha Pola Maqdassi of Alqosh.
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Iraqi Christians driven from the Nineven Plains by the so-called Islamic State are looking forward to moving home, with Church leaders having assembled a taskforce to spearhead a vast rebuilding programme.

The Nineveh Reconstruction Committee, formed from bishops from the Syriac Catholic, Syriac Orthodox and Chaldean Catholic Churches, will oversee the planning and rebuilding of settlements in the Northern Iraqi plains where it is thought that about 12,000 homes need to be rebuilt. Aid to the Church in Need, the Catholic charity for persecuted and other suffering Christians, estimates that reconstruction costs will amount to around £160 million (€188 million).

Funds will be allocated in proportion to the number of damaged houses belonging to members of each Church.


After a ceremony in Erbil, the capital of Kurdish northern Iraq, in which the committee was established, Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Timothaeus Mosa Alshamany said: “Today we are truly a united Church – Syriac Orthodox, Chaldean and Syriac Catholic – united in the work of rebuilding these houses on the Nineveh Plains and in restoring hope to the hearts of the inhabitants of these villages and inviting those who have left them to return.”

Expressing a wish that Christians could return home as soon as possible, Syriac Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Petros Mouche said: “I would like to invite the Christians of the Nineveh Plains to return to their homes and resume living in their villages, in order to bear witness to Christianity.”