Monday, July 09, 2007

Christians remaining in Baghdad

An article from the Daily Star in Lebanon today about Christians in Baghdad reports on the current situation and concludes with a moving application of a snippet from yesterday's gospel:-

Amid the danger, however, Baghdad's remaining Christians continue to try to preserve the rituals that bind their community together.

"The children have been meeting here for more than a month, receiving Christian teachings to prepare to receive the communion despite these circumstances," Archbishop Matoka told AFP at the church.

"In the past we used to collect the pupils in the church car but this year their parents have to bring them to the church because of the bad security situation," he explained.

Several Baghdad Christian churches have cancelled their annual first communion ceremonies to avoid attracting danger, he said, but the Syrian Catholic Church decided to go ahead despite the risks.

"Our future is in the hands of God, but we know and see there is a hellish scheme to expel Christians from Iraq and the Middle East. I hope this will not happen. Christianity was born in these countries so how could we leave them? We have martyrs these days," the archbishop said.

"Many priests have been kidnapped and slaughtered. Terrorists are compelling Christians to convert to Islam or be killed ... Jesus told us: 'I would send you as sheep among wolves. Don't be afraid. I am with you."

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