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Pope Francis

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One-thousand Christians abandon the Holy Land every year

2010-02-27

Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa
Custodian of the Holy Land

“About 170 thousand Christians, including Orthodox, Catholics and other faiths live among about 3.5 million Muslims and 5.7 million Jews. It’s a reality of suffering, the number of Christians is constantly diminishing.”

Msgr. Louis Sako
Archbishop of Kirkuk (Iraq)

“We want to stay here because this is our country, this is where our history it. If Christians leave, their history will also be gone. It’s a great loss, not only for us, but also for the Muslims.”

The situation is dramatic in the Middle East. During a meeting held in Rome to celebrate ecumenical dialogue between Muslims and Christians, the Archbishop of Iraq Louis Sako, denounced that the massive exodus is growing every year.

Currently, 70 percent of all Christians have immigrated. Those who remain, do it for their jobs, their property or because they don’t have anywhere else to go to.

Archbishop Sako says Mosul, is the least safest place in Iraq. Christians there have less rights than Muslims. They’re pressured and harassed into leaving their home country. In fact, the pope has penned a letter to Iraq’s Prime Minister, asking him to follow through with promise to protect Christians.

According to Sako, one of the reasons for the persecution, is that Muslims relate Christianity the West. He says, Muslims believe the West, which includes Christians, is responsible for the war, the West wants to get rich off their oil and leave Muslims in ruins. In fact, Archbishop Sako says they are afraid the West will eradicate their theocratic system and impose their own morals.

But aside from this difficult situation, Christians are working to find solutions.

Msgr. Louis Sako
Archbishop of Kirkuk (Iraq)

“The people appreciate our openness, skills and behaviour, but that’s not enough for them.”


Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa
Custodian of the Holy Land

“We need to find more opportunities in colleges so that we could live together, study and grow. There’s no other alternative to dialogue.”

Christians in the Middle East hope special synod dedicated to them, which will take place next October, will put a spotlight on their reality. They hope the synod will help them speak about the situation without being afraid.

PVB/MC
DC/PP
-WP-