Statement from the Bishops of Iraq
This statement by the Bishops of Iraq on the ethnic cleansing of Christians in Mosul, Iraq (where Shiite Muslims are also facing violent persecution) is an unofficial translation published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Punctuation retained.
July 22, 2014
We, the Archbishops of Mosul, with all our brother Bishops assembled in Erbil‐Einkawa, led by His Beatitude Patriarch Mar Louis Raphael Sako, express our shock, worry and pain for what happened to the innocent Christians in Mosul. U.N. Secretary‐General Ban Ki‐moon has described this as “crime against humanity” and the Arab League Secretary‐General Dr. Nabil Elaraby has called it “a stain of shame”. We denounce and condemn this crime and discrimination. We can’t understand how innocent civilians can be forced from their homes and robbed of their money and possessions, nor how churches and monasteries, dating from before the arrival of Islam, can be burnt to the ground. Is this not a humanitarian catastrophe and a tragic loss of heritage?
We are proud to be Christian and can’t imagine giving up our faith for any reason or in the face of any devilish act. As native citizens, we request the following from our national government:
- Full protection of our rights and those of other minorities.
- Financial support for the displaced families who have lost everything, in addition to paying and sustaining civil servant salaries, as soon as possible.
- Compensation for damages and losses suffered by Christians. Also, if the crisis endures, the provision of shelter and educational facilities so that displaced students can continue their studies.
We call on all people of conscience in Iraq and around the world to put pressure on those extremists to stop destroying the churches, monasteries and other Christian monuments which constitute an invaluable part of our Iraqi and Universal heritage.
Rumors of an agreement between those extremists and the church are fictitious; their crimes cannot be denied nor justified.
We await practical actions to assure our people, not merely expressions of condemnation.
On this occasion, we greatly value and appreciate the Kurdish Region Government KRG’s welcome and support of our displaced people during this crisis. Consequently, we propose the formation of a joint committee of KRG government, and Christian representatives to follow up on the situation of those displaced to improve their living condition and reduce their suffering.
We pray to God to shorten this difficult time and return security and peace to all Iraqi lands.
For Bishop Pates’s letter to National Security Advisor Susan Rice on the plight of Christians in Iraq, click here.
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