A feud between a patriarch and a militia leader adds to the woes of Iraqi Christians

by | Aug 4, 2023 | Religion

IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi Christians have struggled since the Nineveh plains, their historic homeland of rolling hills dotted with wheat and barley fields, were wrested back from Islamic State extremists six years ago.Although the threat from IS has receded, some towns are still mostly rubble. There are few inhabited homes or basic services, including water. Many Christians have given up and left for Europe, Australia or the United States. Others are trying to follow.
Now the shrinking religious minority that was also violently targeted by al-Qaida before the rise of IS has been rocked by yet another crisis in the form of a political showdown between two influential Christian figures — a Vatican-appointed cardinal and a militia leader, with land and influence at the core of the drama.
The dispute adds to the woes of Iraqi Christians, who have often felt sidelined in the political order. A 2021 visit by Pope Francis provided a glimmer of hope that quickly faded.
Meanwhile, the Christian population has plummeted. The number of Christians in Iraq today is estimated at 150,000, compared to 1.5 million in 2003. Iraq’s total population is more than 40 million.
The political tension rose last month when Cardinal Louis Sako withdrew from his headquarters in Baghdad to northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region after Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid revoked a decree recognizing his position as patriarch of the Chaldeans, Iraq’s largest Christian denomination and one of the Catholic Church’s eastern rites.
Sako said he will not return to Baghdad until his recognition is reinstated. His departure added …

Article Attribution | Read More at Article Source

Share This