Utterly Abandoned (Updated)

From Vatican Radio:

The last Christian families still present in Mosul are leaving the city and are heading towards Iraqi Kurdistan.

The exodus was caused by the proclamation on Thursday by the self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate that Christians must pay a special tax or be killed.  Islamists have for the past two days been marking the doors of homes belonging to Christians and Shia Muslims living in the city.

And from the New York Times:

As the Christians leave Mosul, ISIS has painted the Arabic letter that means “Nasrani,” from Nazrene, a word often used to refer to Christians, on their homes. Next to the letter, in black, are the words: “Property of the Islamic State of Iraq.”

The militants have also told Muslims who rent property from Christians that they no longer need to pay rent, said a businessman who rents from a Christian. The landlord now lives in Lebanon.

Many Christians interviewed expressed a sense of utter abandonment and desolation as well as a recognition that the sound of church bells mingled with the Muslim calls to prayer, the ultimate symbol of Mosul’s tolerance, would likely never be heard again.

Update:

After the "Angelus" today, Pope Francis addressed the Christian communities of Mosul:

Carissimi fratelli e sorelle tanto perseguitati, io so quanto soffrite, io so che siete spogliati di tutto. Sono con voi nella fede in Colui che ha vinto il male! E a voi, qui in piazza e a quanti ci seguono per mezzo della televisione, rivolgo l’invito a ricordare nella preghiera queste comunità cristiane.

Dearest brothers and sisters, so persecuted, I know how much you are suffering; I know you are stripped of everything. I am with you in faith in Him who has conquered evil! And to you present in this Piazza and to those who follow by means of television, I invite your prayers for these Christian communities.

Update-2 (from L'Osservatore Romano):

On Sunday afternoon, the jihadist militants seized the ancient monastery of Mar Behnam, located 10 minutes from the city of Qaraqosh, which is mostly Christian. Until Saturday the monastery was managed by Syro-Catholic monks. “The international community”, said Fr Nizar Semaan, a colleague of Archbishop Yohanna Petros Moshe of Mossul for Syrians, “is disturbingly passive in the face of what is happening. Concrete measures are necessary on the humanitarian and political level”.

In an open letter addressed to “all men of good will and to those who are concerned about the nation of Iraq”, the Patriarch Louis Raphaël Sako i of Babylon for Chaldeans recalls that recent acts of violence are contrary to the Quran and damage the great common history of commitment of all Iraqis for the country.

Robert P. Imbelli, a long-time Commonweal contributor, is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. A book of essays in his honor, The Center Is Jesus Christ Himself, edited by Andrew Meszaros, was published this year by The Catholic University of America Press.

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