Church in Iraq

Easter will strengthen hope of Iraqi Christians, Baghdad Bishop says

.- Speaking recently to the Religious Information Service of Italy (SIR), Bishop Shlemon Warduni, Auxiliary Chaldean Bishop of Baghdad (Babylon), expressed his continued concern over the current security situation in Iraq and its possible implications for Holy Week liturgies.  Bishop Warduni said, however, that the Easter season will offer newfound hope for Christians in the war-torn region.

“We foresaw an intense liturgical program for the next Easter, but we don’t know whether we shall be able to celebrate it,” the bishop said. “Here, death is just behind the corner.”

He also expressed “sadness for the exodus of Christians from the country.”

“We feel bitter,” Bishop Warduni told SIR, “we are living in a situation which seems to have no end, in which the victims are the ill, the old, and the children, lots of whom lost their parents because of the unspeakable violence caused by car bombs, kamikazes and criminals.”

Yet, he offered, “Easter will strengthen our certain hopes for a fair future, a future of tolerance and reconciliation.”

The bishop noted that the Chaldean Patriarchate will celebrate the Easter Vigil early on the afternoon of Holy Saturday, due to the fact that “going out at night is too dangerous.”

“We hope faith will give our Christians the necessary courage to overcome difficulties and participate in rites. For everyone,” he concluded, “the Holy Week is time to fast. Our fasting is the suffering in which we are living. It is meant for Iraq as well as for the whole world.”

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