To ensure peace and the survival of the Christian community, he said, Iraqi Christians must be recognized in the country’s constitution as having equal rights with Muslims.
The "nucleus of misunderstanding" and "discrimination" is contained in the very articles of the Constitution, he pointed out.
The Constitution establishes Islam as the official religion of the state and the fundamental source of legislation. At the same time, the constitution also prohibits laws that contradict or oppose the fundamental principles of Islam.
"Because of these and other articles, Christians are forced to follow Islamic law in the administration of justice," Father Benoka explained. This extends to areas where Muslim law conflicts greatly with Christian teaching – mixed Muslim-Christian marriages, women's rights, and freedom of speech.
The law also restricts Christians’ ability to share their faith and imposes limits on Muslim conversion to Christianity.
"We need international protection seeing as the Iraqi government continues to fail in our protection," Father Benoka said.
Archbishop Basil Casmoussa of Mosul has also called for help from the U.N.
"When we see that, especially by the authorities, there is not a adequate response, we feel without protection,” he told Vatican Radio, Nov. 2. “So it is necessary that the United Nations enters in play, it is now indispensable to safeguard this little community!"
These points, along with the reconciliation of political parties in the country through the selection of a moderate government "far from the patronage of political Islam," are "important to protect the rights of Christians and so maintain their presence in Iraq," the archbishop said.
In the meantime, explained Father Benoka, the Christian communities of the Nineveh Plain are preparing for the arrival of Christians from Baghdad who are fleeing the recent upsurge in violence. The attack on Our Lady of Salvation has been followed by numerous car bombings in recent days that have caused chaos in the city.