Loading
Military archbishop: US invasion led to fewer Iraqi Christians
By David Kerr
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio at the tomb of Saint Peter
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio at the tomb of Saint Peter

.- U.S. Military Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio says the collapse of Iraq’s Christian population is among the legacies of America's invasion in 2003.

“Yes, you can say in a certain sense that the invasion of Iraq did provoke this tremendous diminution of the Christian population in that country. And what the future holds, that still remains to be seen,” the archbishop for the armed forces told CNA during his visit to Rome on Jan. 16.

His comments come only a month after the final pull-out of U.S. troops from Iraq, where they remained following the invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. Aid agencies estimate that over the course of eight years, the Catholic population of Iraq fell from over 800,000, to less than 150,000 now

Archbishop Broglio believes Catholicism suffered after the invasion because of a perceived closeness to its previous ruler. He said Saddam Hussein tended “to trust Catholics, and gave them positions of responsibility.” One prominent Iraqi Catholic was Hussein’s Foreign Minister Tarik Aziz.

And even if Catholics “weren’t particularly part of the regime, they became identified with the regime,” Archbishop Broglio said.

“Before, they were a minority that was protected, but now they are a minority that is not protected.”

As President Barack Obama withdrew the last U.S. troops from Iraq on Dec. 15, he said they were leaving behind a “sovereign, stable and self-reliant,” country.

But there are signs that Iraqi Christians' plight has worsened since then.

“At a time of increased political instability, we continue to receive disturbing reports,” said John Pontifex of Aid to the Church in Need on Jan. 20.

He said an attack took place earlier in the month against security personnel outside the residence of Kirkuk's Archbishop Louis Sako.

Archbishop Sako, who was indoors at the time, told Aid to the Church in Need that the situation is less stable now that U.S. troops are gone, with much of the turmoil stemming from the power struggle between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

Pontifex says there is a “ticking bomb regarding Christianity in Iraq.”

“Few Christians, no matter how deep their roots are in the local society, feel able to withstand the pressure to leave.”

Fear of an attack forced Archbishop Sako to cancel the Chaldean Catholics' midnight Christmas celebration last month. Services were moved to the daytime, and Christians were warned not to display decorations outside their homes.

Nevertheless, it appears that many of the Catholics who fled Iraq would return if safety improved.

Monsignor John Kozar, president of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, recently spoke of the “strong determination” some Iraqi Catholics have to go back home. He recently visited Jordan, where many Christians from Iraq now reside.

“I think they have a yearning to return to the homeland, and that homeland for them means practicing their Chaldean-rite Christianity,” the monsignor said. “That has become very, very important to them.”


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Interview with Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See on the persecution of Christians
New book 'The Vatican unknown'
A Look at India from Rome
3D Church mapping
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Aug
21

Liturgical Calendar

August 21, 2014

Saint Pius X, Pope

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 19:23-30

Gospel
Date
08/19/14
08/18/14
08/17/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Ezek 36: 23-28
Gospel:: Mt 22: 1-14

Saint of the Day

Pope St. Pius X »

Saint
Date
08/19/14
08/17/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 19:23-30

Homily
Date
08/19/14
08/18/14
08/17/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: