- Apr 16, 2021
Having witnessed or even experienced persecution for their faith, the Christians of Iraq must be careful not to harbor thoughts of revenge, Pope Francis told them.
A lethal combination of insecurity, political chaos, economic stagnation and outright persecution have created a toxic environment in the Middle East – for almost everyone, of course, but in a special way for Christians.
Though many young Christians are contemplating leaving the country, those who have chosen to stay have become staples for the local community, taking on leadership roles that aim not only to survive in the present situation, but to make things better.
Until now the Iraqi government and the UN have largely ignored the needs of Christians on the Nineveh Plains, so local leaders are urging potential donors to bypass those systems and deal directly with them.
In the Archdiocese of Erbil, Archbishop Bashar Warda is wielding real business moxie in service to the survival of his people.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted Sept. 19 to advance a bill that seeks to ensure U.S. aid reaches Christian genocide victims in Iraq out of the committee, moving it closer to a floor vote. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) praised Tuesday’s vote, saying the bill provides much-needed support to the Chaldean Archeparchy of Erbil, which has hosted Christian victims of Islamic State for several years.
Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil tells Crux that as long as special preferences under Trump’s new refugee order are for all victims of ISIS and not just Christians alone, it will help, and that Christians “celebrated when Trump won” in hopes it would mark an end to U.S. neglect.
While long-Christian villages are being liberated, the threats facing Christians remain real, even in areas outside of ISIS control. The result is a mixture of celebration and fear, hope and horror, faced daily by Christians seeking to remain in a land that embraced the faith during the time of the apostles.