Thursday, November 4, 2010

After the massacre, the "dilemma" of Iraqi Christians / many prepare to flee

The massacre at the Syrian Catholic cathedral in Baghdad that killed 58 and wounded 70 has left Iraqi Christians “terrified and in shock,” according to the Redemptorist superior in Iraq.

“We are living something that is really terrible,” Father Vincent van Vossel told the Fides news agency. “There had never been a massacre of such magnitude, all within a church during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. I have visited the church and listened to the testimonies of the faithful in shock. The terrorists mercilessly killed women and children. The community is traumatized. The church looked like a cemetery.”

“Yesterday a number of attacks hit Baghdad and Shiite areas, which means that not only Christians are under attack, but the whole area is flooded by terrorism,” added Father van Vossel, who has lived in Iraq for four decades. “Many Christian families are organizing themselves to leave the country. The excruciating dilemma is whether to flee in search of a better future, or stay, risking their lives.”

Father van Vossel noted that the November 2 funeral of the massacre victims “was attended by many Muslim leaders who asked the government to defend Christians. We hope that, after yet another massacre, civil authorities listen to the cry of Christians in Iraq and place an end to their suffering.”

In an interview with the AsiaNews service, Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk said that government officials have an obligation to provide security for Christians, especially at churches on Sunday. Muslim leaders, he added, have a moral duty to denounce the terrorist attacks on Christians.

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