The Dora district’s large number of Catholic churches and religious houses has earned it the nickname “The Vatican of Iraq.”
Other prelates also lamented the attacks.
Bishop Philip Najim, the apostolic procurator representing the Chaldean Church in Rome, says such violence is designed to terrorize the whole population and drive the Christians out of the country. The terrorists are “taking hope from the mind of the Iraqi population,” he said.
“Yes, this is against the Christian people,” he continued. “There is a persecution, (Christians) are attacked because they are a minority in the country.”
Acknowledging that terrorists are also attacking Muslims, he said the whole Iraqi community is being targeted. The bishop noted that the issue of violence in Iraq is a threat to regional stability. He called on the international community to help Iraq achieve peace and security.
Archbishop Atanase Matti Shaba Matoka, the Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Baghdad, also responded to the violence.
“Despite the proclamations, the government does nothing to stop this wave of violence that overwhelms us. There are policemen in front of the churches, but now the homes of our faithful are being attacked.”
Among the Christians affected are Syriac Catholics, Assyrians and other denominations in the district of Dora.
“Terror knocks at our doors. Families are upset. This is no life, they say. They want to drive us out and they are succeeding,”Archbishop Matoka added. “The country is in the throes of destruction and terrorism. The suffering of Christians increases and they want to leave the country. We are left speechless."
Like Archbishop Warda, Archbishop Matoka appealed for swift action from the international community, beseeching Pope Benedict XVI and the Universal Church to aid Iraqi Christians.
“Today we cannot help but hope and pray, entrusting our lives in God's hands. Iraqi Christians, amidst their tears, cry out: In manus tuas, Domine," he commented. The Latin phrase, meaning “Into your hands, Lord,” alludes to the last words of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Holy See’s Secretary of State, responded to Archbishop Matoka’s appeal. He affirmed that the protection of Christians in the Middle East "has already been discussed with the Iraqi authorities and taken in serious consideration."
"We are reflecting, as the Synod of Bishops already has, on this huge problem of the persecution of Christians, on this unutterable suffering of the Christian community spread throughout the world in this moment, especially in Iraq,” the cardinal commented to L’Osservatore Romano.