Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Iraq’s first new church since 2003 US invasion opens

I pray that the Lord Jesus will keep this new church from Muslim attacks.

7/10/2011 Iraq (AFP) – Iraq’s first new church since the 2003 US-led invasion opened in a poor Christian neighborhood of the northern city of Kirkuk, the region’s Chaldean archbishop told AFP. The inauguration of Mar Bulos (Saint Paul’s) church in the multi-ethnic and multi-religious city comes despite the sharp fall in the number of Christians in Iraq because of attacks and threats by Al Qaeda.

In an opening ceremony last Thursday, Louis Sako, the Chaldean Archbishop of the northern province of Sulaimaniyah and Kirkuk (also the name of the provincial capital) said that Christians and Muslims “need each other.”

“We need each other, we cannot isolate ourselves and live alone,” he told a congregation of about 300.
“Isolation is a slow death, so we have hope for a joint life as Christians and Muslims, to have a righteous country, and a city full of security, stability and dignity.” “This is considered as the first new church in Iraq since 2003,” Archbishop Sako said.

The number of Iraqi Christians has dwindled to about 400,000 from an estimated figure of between 800,000 and 1.2 million before the 2003 invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein. Most of them live in Baghdad, Kirkuk, the area surrounding the northern city of Mosul and parts of the autonomous Kurdistan region in the north of Iraq.

On October 31, a group of Al Qaeda commandos stormed a Syriac Catholic church in Baghdad, with the ensuing siege killing 44 worshippers, two priests and seven Iraqi security force officers. It was the worst attack against Iraq’s Christian community since 2003, and countless members of the minority have since fled the country. The new Kirkuk church serves a housing community of about 200 Christian families who fled to Kirkuk and nearby regions from other parts of the country, Archbishop Sako said. (Source)

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