Lament for the Chaldean Church
A plea to pro-Iraqi-war Christians.
On August 1, 2004, no fewer than four Christian churches in Bagdad were all but destroyed in a rash of bombings that claimed at least 15 Iraqi lives and one American soldier. Since that time reports have been scarce but indicate that a Christian community of between 200,000 and 650,000 have had to disappear underground or renounce their faith.
Fox News: Monday, August 02, 2004
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Assailants triggered a coordinated series of explosions outside five churches in Baghdad (search) and Mosul (search) during Sunday evening services, killing 11 people and wounding more than 50 in the first major assault on Iraq's Christian minority since the 15-month-old insurgency began.
Separate violence beginning the night before killed 24, including an American soldier, and wounded 101. The toll included a suicide car bombing outside a Mosul police station that killed five people and wounded 53, and clashes in Fallujah between U.S. troops and insurgents that killed 12 Iraqis and wounded 39 others.
The unprecedented attacks against Iraq's 750,000-member Christian minority seemed to confirm community members' fears they might be targeted as suspected collaborators with American forces amid a rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism.
From the web site of the Chaldean Church:
The Christian minorities in Iraq today are among the oldest in Christendom. They make up about 6% of the population numbering fewer than one million out of a population of 17 million. They consist of two main groups:
1. The Catholics (650,000)
A. Chaldean Rite: more than 600,000 with one patriarch (Babylon in Baghdad); four archdioceses (Kirkuk, Mosul, Basra & Arbil; and five dioceses (Alqosh, Amadijah, Aqra, Sulaimaniya & Zakhu)
B. Syrian Rite: more than 47,000 with two archdioceses (Baghdad and Mosul)
C. Latin (Roman) Rite: more than 4000 with one archdiocese (Baghdad).
D. Armenian Rite: more than 3000 with one archdiocese (Baghdad).
2. The Other Christians (200,000)
A. The Church of the East, formerly Nestorian. More than 150,000.
B. Syrian Orthodox: More than 40,000.
C. Armenians. More than 5000.
The above figures are derived from CHALDEANS PAST AND PRESENT by Fr. Michael Bazzi (1993)...
At the time of the preparation of this page, the liberation of Iraq is drawing to a close. No information is available about the fate of the Iraqi Christians during the last days of the Baath regime. It must be admitted in all candor that Christians were not persecuted by the Baathist regime, however, they were subjected to random acts of violence from the Muslim majority. Whatever comes out of the war, the fate of the Christian communities in Iraq may be in doubt.
At the present time, May of 2005, it becomes increasing unclear whether the division amongst the Iraqi Muslim factions can be settled without civil war. Should civil war break out American control over the situation will almost certainly disintegrate entirely. Resentment against Christians and Christianity will, in all probability, eliminate all possibility for open practice of Christian faith and all possibility of missionary work in Iraq.
On March 20, 2003, the Minnesota council of churchs published a press release in which Episcopal bishop James Jelinek had the following to say: "The Minnesota Council of Churches mourns the choice made by President Bush to launch pre-emptive military action against Iraq and we call upon President Bush and the government of the United States to return to exploring diplomatic means to diminish the threat posed by Saddam Hussein."
Many well meaning Christians have supported the dominant American political party and its chosen leaders, thinking that those leaders share the same moral values. Unfortunately, it is a sad truism that it is possible to be quite sincere, and yet sincerely wrong. What these well meaning Christians need to ask themselves quite simply is: has the war in Iraq not only cost the lives of Iraqi brethren in Christ, but also closed the door to future missionary work in Iraq?
Judging from commentary by evangelical Christians who have done missionary work in foreign countries, American Christians need to spend more time doing missionary work in foreign countries and less time waving flags and cheering politicians. Sincere Christians need to ask themselves if supporting a war for oil and global domination is more important that winning souls to the promise of Jesus Christ. In the Christian view, this world is very temporal, but eternity lasts, well, more than a long time.
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