Faith of Iraqi Christians called unbreakable, despite persecution



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ABSTRACTFaith of Iraqi Christians called unbreakable, despite persecution :: Catholic News Agency (CNA) Editors Service About us Donate Spanish Portuguese Follow us: Loading News Headlines Vatican Americas Asia - Pacific US Europe Middle East - Africa Most Read Most Commented Archive Mandate Resources Abortion Advent Apologetics Benedict XVI Bible Cardinals Catechism Catholic Links Catholic Womanhood Church Fathers Holy Week Life & Family Liturgical Calendar Liturgy Mary Politics Pope Francis Prayers Sacraments Saints Virtue Tools Catholic Podcast RSS Feeds CNA TV CNA Audio Columns Bishops' Corner Book Reviews Cinemazlowski Fr. Robert Barron Guest Columnist In Good Company Led Into the Truth Movie Reviews Russell Shaw The Dispute of the Humanum The New (& the Old) Evangelization The Way of Beauty Viewpoint Documents Pope Benedict XVI Pope John Paul II Pope Paul VI Pope John XXIII Pope Pius XII Pope Pius XI Pope Pius X Pope Leo XIII Vatican II Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith Pontifical Council for the Family United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Cardinal James Francis Stafford Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Bishop Samuel J. Aquila Catholic Womanhood CNA Blog Home » News » Middle East - Africa Faith of Iraqi Christians called unbreakable, despite persecution By Blanca Ruiz A family of Christian refugees in Iraq who are taking shelter at the Syriac Catholic Mrtshmony Shrine in Erbil. Credit: Aid to the Church in Need-USA. Erbil, Iraq, Aug 22, 2014 / 04:01 am ( CNA/EWTN News ) .- Iraqi Christians' faith is not diminished, even as they face exile from their homes and profound suffering, an official with a Catholic pastoral charity has said after visiting Kurdistan, where many have taken refuge. “The faith is the reason for their lives. And despite the persecution, children wear rosaries around their necks and the people do not hide their tattoos of crosses or their medals that identify them as Christians,” Maria Lozano, adjunct communications director for Aid to the Church in Need, told CNA following her Aug. 12-16 visit to Erbil. “They are not going to renounce their faith, even though that is the reason why they are being persecuted.” More than 70,000 Christians have been displaced to Erbil from their homes in Mosul, Bakhdida, and other towns in Nineveh Province by the advent of the Islamic State, a recently established caliphate that has persecuted all non-Sunnis in its territory, which extends across swaths of Iraq and Syria. Lozano traveled to Erbil along with Aid to the Church in Need's president, Johannes Heereman, and the organization's program director, Regina Lynch, on a fact-finding mission to assess the needs of the displaced persons. One of the most powerful moments during the trip, Lozano reflected, was when she met a 90 year-old woman who said the only thing she could bring with her as she fled from her home was a small package with her prayer books. “She showed us those books with so much care. They were written in Aramaic by hand. And I thought, 'this is precisely what they want to save: their faith.'” Aid to the Church in Need's mission to Erbil was done also to “show our solidarity with these people have left everything out of defense of the faith,” Lozano said. “They need to know that we are with them and that we have not forgotten them.” “The church that is by the refugee camp was completely full, so much that I couldn’t even enter. From outside I could hear them pray and sing in Aramaic … and I thought, 'this is the voice that they want to silence in Iraq.'” “Something needs to be done so that they can keep praying, praising, and singing in that language and in that land.” She urged that people “pray that these refugees will receive consolation, the help of God, and the strength to endure everything.” In an Aug. 19 statement, Heereman called on the international community to “respond decisively now” to the Islamic State, “if we do not want to be silent witnesses to the last chapter of the history of Christendom in Iraq.” “This cannot remain simply the concern of the Church in Iraq. We must not be silent witnesses to a destruction that is now reaching the scale of a disaster of civilization.” The Aid to the Church in Need delegation also visited Dohuk, a Kurdish city which is hosting more than 60,000 additional displaced persons. “We took a more mountainous route passing at times less than 12 miles from ISIS forces,” Lozano wrote in a description of the trip. “However, there were only a few military check-points through which we passed very easily. In the distance we could see the Christian town of Alqosh, which has for the most part been abandoned by its inhabitants in anticipation of the arrival of ISIS.” They were accompanied by the Chaldean Archbishop of Mosu.......