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Silence/Words/Action (Update)

The auxiliary bishop of Baghdad laments Western silence regarding the plight of Christians in Iraq:

“Where is the respect for the rights of Christians?” the Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad Shlemon Warduni asks Vatican Radio. “We have to ask the world: Why are you silent? Why do not you speak out? Do human rights exist, or not? And if they exist, where are they?  There are many, many cases that should arouse the conscience of the whole world: Where is Europe? Where is America?”

Yesterday, however, a New York Times editorial did speak forcefully:

The brutal crackdown, by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, an offshoot of Al Qaeda known as ISIS, has cleared Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, of a Christian population that has lived there for two millenniums. These attacks deserve the strongest possible international condemnation and may warrant prosecution as a crime against humanity.

And Vatican Radio reports today that some prominent Muslim leaders are also speaking out:

The most explicit condemnation came from Iyad Ameen Madani, the Secretary General for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the group representing 57 countries, and 1.4 billion Muslims.

In a statement, he officially denounced the "forced deportation under the threat of execution” of Christians, calling it a "crime that cannot be tolerated.” The Secretary General also distanced Islam from the actions of the militant group known as ISIS, saying they "have nothing to do with Islam and its principles that call for justice, kindness, fairness, freedom of faith and coexistence.”

Tomorrow's L'Osservatore Romano announces that a group of French bishops, led by Cardinal Barbarin of Lyon, and accompanied by several journalists, will travel to Baghdad to meet with the Patriarch. Their intent is to join words and prayers with concrete manifestations of solidarity and support.

Meanwhile French dioceses are planning days of prayer and fasting, as well as collecting funds to support their beleaguered and persecuted brothers and sisters.

What actions are being taken in the United States? Could a National Day of Fast be proclaimed, perhaps in preparation for the Feast of the Transfiguration? Could a delegation from the Bishops Conference travel to Iraq, accompanied by editors of prominent Catholic periodicals? Pope Francis is paying a visit both tomorrow and Monday to the Italian town of Caserta. Is Baghdad (if not Mosul) the visitation of greater urgency, where severely tested Christians truly need to be "confirmed in the faith?"


Rod Dreher reports on France's offer of asylum to Mosul Christians:

About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.



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Father Imbelli,

I have written the USCCB asking them to consider proclaim a National Day of Fast as you have suggested. We also need to write our elected government representatives to speak out on behalf of those who suffer persecution because of their faith. We need to urge our secular media to do likewise.   Thank you for continuing to speak on behalf of our persecuted brothers and sisters.

We will need to do more than fast for a day and writre to people in authority.   There has been a significant immigatrtion of Iraqi refugees into a few areas of the United Staes.   In the last few years abou 10,000 Chaldeans have emigrated to East County San Diego, especially around El Cajon.  There is a larger group in Michigan and more elsewhere.  The Chadean community in El Cajon is well structured, much of it around its churches.   But it is very difficult.  The newly arrived adults have little English and ndo not have highly-skilled qualifications that are recognized here, so jobs are difficult.  School is difficult for the children.  There are pressures on public services, and local budgets.

Point is: we need plans and people to execute those plans to assist our brothers and sisters who flee the warfare there - wherever they go, from temporary places in Kurdistn onward, even to our neighbohoods.  All Iraqi refugees, f course, not just the Christians, but cerainly including them.


I agree that we must welcome those who suffer persecution with open arms. How do we make this happen?  


The USA, at a minimum, should be taking in all of these refugees, providing compensation, and rectifying as much as they can the damage that THEY have created. What a disaster the Americans government has been for the world!

Glad to see some Muslims speaking out. Muslim leaders who believe in peace have to do more. We have to hold responsible those who are selling arms to Isis and others like them. Too many people are making money on these wars. Would that all would get together and pursue those who commit crimes against humanity.


Having just written tha we need to do more than write the authorities, we must contact our representatives to ask for action to speed refugeee processing.   Writing such messages,in the day of e-mail to our congresspersons is dead easy.

But the harder part will be workng to establish welcoming communities.   NIMBY is a major American attribute, and maybe always has been.  This is a problem that cries for the implementation of the old slogan: Think globally, act locally.   We need to find the civil and religious organizations who can provide practical assistance - AFSC comes to mind for me, but probably also your diocese has an office with experence and resources.  And we need to participate as citizens - attend and speak up at public meetings, write letters to the editor, communicate with your circle via social media.

There is a famous piece of guidance:  "Accept an assignment.  Then you don't have to be responsible for everything.  [Sister Corita Ket, IHM]



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