The director of cultural affairs of the Patriarchate of Babylonia of the Chaldeans and the rector of Babel College, Auxiliary Bishop Jacques Ishaq, said this week Iraq’s President Talabani has promised Chaldean Patriarch Mar Emmanuel III Delly he will intervene to ensure that “Christian students will be able to take a test on the Christian religion at the end of the year,” which means that the faith will be allowed to be taught.
In an interview with the Office for Migrant Ministry of the Archdiocese of Turin, Bishop Ishaq said, “The Iraqi educational system is based on an evaluation that is obtained by the sum total of the final grades in each subject. In many schools, the only religious instruction is in the Islamic faith, and consequently, Christian students find it much more difficult to obtain grades similar to those of their Muslim counterparts.”
For this reason, Chaldean Patriarch Mar Emmanuel III Delly—who will be made a cardinal on November 24 by Pope Benedict XVI—“has asked the Iraqi president to guarantee that the Christian religion can be taught in public schools where the percentage of the Christian students is around 25 percent.”
Bishop Ishaq pointed out, however, the one of the problems is “finding teachers who teach the Christian religion. The fleeing and forced emigration of Christians has resulted in many educated persons leaving the country. In addition, there are the problems of the chaos in Baghdad and which have reached the Ministry of Instruction and those responsible for such decisions who at times can obstruct or encourage laws that favor the Christian minority.”
Despite the problems, he said, “Christians are still perceived as bearers of culture.”
According to the SIR news agency, before the nationalization of schools in Iraq in 1972, “Christian schools were considered the best in the country, such that the most influential Muslim families sent their children to these schools. Some of these students are leaders today in government and mosques.”