While multimillionaire Tony Blair lies, the cocky, comfortable Christian Bush gloats, and the neocons cash in, Iraqi Bishop Shlemon Warduni tells the truth about their treachery in a speech to America's Catholic bishops this past June 13.
As you read his remarks, remember — "They hate us because we are free."
Our situation in Iraq became a tragedy of immense proportions after 2003. All Christians were harmed, but especially we Chaldeans, the largest community of Christians in Iraq.
We have lost one Bishop — Faraj Rahho; one priest was killed — Fr. Ragheed Ganni; and 6 subdeacons. More than 15 priests have been kidnapped and released after paying a lot of money as ransom. Many of them were tortured. More than 20 churches have been attacked.The tragic high point was the attack on Our Lady of Deliverance Cathedral in Baghdad where over 45 persons were murdered, including two young priests. Many of our faithful have been kidnapped and killed.
As a result, our people have no trust in anybody and they continue to leave the country with many criticizing the Church for not having helped them. This emigration is catastrophic for our Church. Some wonder if there is a big plot to empty Iraq, if not to empty all the Middle East, of Christians.
Our Pontifical Babel College for Philosophy and Theology, which was situated in Dora, a Christian section of Baghdad, was occupied by U.S. coalition forces for one and a half year as a "combat outpost." This was very bad for us because our brother Muslims accused us of collaborating with the Americans because we were Christians.They said that we gave the building to the Americans. The taking of this building by the U.S. military definitely harmed our relations with Muslims and was used by extremists to stir up more hatred against Christians and encourage more persecution.
We have not experienced this kind of drastic situation in the past 200 years. You may ask, why did this happen? First of all because of the war, there is no peace, no security. Instead there are terrorism, kidnapping, car bombings, suicide bombings. There are no jobs, only much oppression. In the face of this, there is no more attachment to the land of our ancestors, to the land where the Church has existed for centuries. Everybody is worried and anxious.
We only ask for our rights and to be considered as first class citizens, just like any other Iraqi, because this is our country. We feel many times that our treatment in general is unjust.
As leaders of the Church in the United States, you bear a special responsibility toward the people and Christians of Iraq.In 2003 your government led the war that brought some terrible consequences.The U.S. government can and must do all it can to encourage tolerance and respect in Iraq, to help Iraq strengthen the rule of law, and to provide assistance that helps create jobs for Iraqis, especially those on the margins.
Many times we ask, where can we find "justice and peace"? Our Lord says: "I give you my peace, but not like the world gives…." The peace of Jesus is love. This love guides us to unity, because love works miracles, and builds justice and peace. This can be realized when all the Church works together in one heart and one thought.