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Iraq church has 'new martyrs', says Baghdad archbishop

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  • Rev Fr John Brian
    Ecumenical News International News Highlights 10 December 2007 Iraq church has new martyrs , says Baghdad archbishop Geneva (ENI). Christians are fleeing Iraq
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 10, 2007
      Ecumenical News International News Highlights 10 December 2007


      Iraq church has 'new martyrs', says Baghdad archbishop

      Geneva (ENI). Christians are fleeing Iraq and Christianity risks
      disappearing from the country, says a senior Baghdad archbishop, reiterating
      appeals made recently to Western churches to intercede with their
      governments about the plight of the Iraqis. "We do have the courage of
      faith, the outpouring of love, but because of the war, you see death and
      destruction, the manifestation of evil. Our people are lacking hope, and so
      they are leaving," said Archbishop Avak V. Asadourian of the Armenian Church
      of Iraq in an interview with Ecumenical News International. "We have new
      martyrs in the church in Iraq," said Asadourian. "I know of no one incident
      in the last four years where priests have converted to another religion
      because they have been threatened," the archbishop stated, adding the same
      was true for lay people. "So in Iraq the faith of your brothers and sisters
      in Christ is strong enough to face martyrdom." [593 words, ENI-07-0956]


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    • Rev Fr John Brian
      full article here Ecumenical News International / 10 December 2007 Iraq church has new martyrs , says Baghdad archbishop By Stephen Brown Geneva, 10 December
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 11, 2007
        full article here

        Ecumenical News International / 10 December 2007

        Iraq church has 'new martyrs', says Baghdad archbishop

        By Stephen Brown

        Geneva, 10 December (ENI)--Christians are fleeing Iraq and
        Christianity risks disappearing from the country, says a senior Baghdad
        archbishop, reiterating appeals made recently to Western churches to
        intercede with their governments about the plight of the Iraqis.

        "We do have the courage of faith, the outpouring of love, but because
        of the war, you see death and destruction, the manifestation of evil.
        Our people are lacking hope, and so they are leaving," said Archbishop
        Avak V. Asadourian of the Armenian Church of Iraq in an interview
        with Ecumenical News International on 10 December.

        He was interviewed in Geneva following a service at the headquarters
        of the World Council of Churches, at which he said the four years since
        the US-led invasion had been "the most difficult by far" of his 28-year
        ministry in Iraq. Asadourian was attending a WCC meeting centred on
        accompanying churches in conflict situations.

        Young people "are faced each day with death and destruction, they are
        faced each day with being kidnapped or facing the agony of having a
        loved one who is kidnapped", the prelate told worshippers at the
        service.

        Despite the hardships, Asadourian, who leads the Council of the Heads
        of the Churches in Baghdad, said the faith of the Christians in Iraq,
        who are estimated to account for less than 3 per cent of the country's
        27.5 million people, has not wavered, although many reports have said
        their numbers have dwindled.

        "On the contrary, we have been steadfast in our faith," said the
        archbishop. He recounted how a Syrian Orthodox priest had been
        decapitated in the northern Iraq city of Mosul, apparently for refusing
        to "adopt another religion". In the same city, a Chaldean priest and his
        three assistants were shot dead in June this year a few metres from
        their church.

        "We have new martyrs in the church in Iraq," said Asadourian. "I know
        of no one incident in the last four years where priests have converted to
        another religion because they have been threatened," the archbishop
        stated, adding the same was true for lay people. "So in Iraq the faith of
        your brothers and sisters in Christ is strong enough to face martyrdom."

        Nevertheless, "we are faced with the problem of the lack of hope," the
        archbishop said in his sermon. "Unless the churches in Iraq can open
        small windows if hope then I am afraid that Christianity will face a
        slow demise not only in Iraq but in the entire region where Jesus Christ
        lived and worked," he said

        "I pray that the churches in the West will be strong enough to have a
        say in the corridors of power to remind those in power what they
        promised for Iraq and that it is high time that the promise is fulfilled,"
        the archbishop told ENI. "We ask for peace, not only for Christians,
        but for the entire Iraqi people, be they Muslim, Christian or adherents
        of other religions."

        In his interview, Asadourian noted that the churches in Iraq had faced a
        conflict situation since 1980, with the outbreak of the war between Iran
        and Iraq, in which many young Christian men enlisted in the army had
        been killed. "After that came the Kuwait war - and what ensued after
        that was the 13 year long embargo, which in itself was a war," said
        Asadourian. "Then we had the 2003 war - and after the cessation of
        hostilities, we have this, the war against terrorism taking place in the
        entire country."

        * * *



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