Iraq's Beleaguered Christians

Policeman stands guard outside Our Lady of Flower Catholic Church in central Baghdad.
Policeman stands guard outside Our Lady of Flower Catholic Church in central Baghdad. (photo: Reuters)

“The Christians of Iraq, the majority of them Chaldean Catholics, have survived wave after wave of occupation over the centuries — only to fall victim to Islamic persecution while their country is under the protection of the supposedly Christian West.”

That’s the assessment of Damian Thompson in the “Holy Smoke” blog he writes for Britain’s Telegraph newspaper.

Thompson, who is the editor-in-chief of the Catholic Herald, entitled his Oct. 14 post, “A 2,000-year-old Church is being strangled before our eyes.”

Writes Thomson, “I was at the London Oratory tonight to hear a heartbreaking talk by Dr. Suha Rassam, a historian and retired professor of medicine, who reminded us that Iraqi Christianity was one of the great civilizing forces of the medieval world, sending missionaries as far afield as India and China.

“Funny how we rarely hear about the achievements of its great scholars. Western historians talk themselves hoarse about the Islamic writers and scientists of the Middle Ages, but there are precious few university courses devoted to the extraordinarily rich liturgy, theology and philosophy of Assyrian Christians, and their crucial role in the public life of the Persian and Ottoman empires.

“As Dr. Rassam said, it is high time that academics properly explored this amazing heritage. But, first, we need to save what remains of it, which means saving Chaldean and Assyrian Christians from ethnic cleansing, sharia law (NB, Rowan Williams), forced conversion, kidnapping and martyrdom.

“The English-based charity Iraqi Christians in Need is a good place to start. Visit its website, donate money and help avert the murder of a Church.”

The Register reports on the plight of Iraqi’s Christians here in our Oct. 19 issue.

— Tom McFeely