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Dominican Watch

Christian Minority Persecution in Iraq

15th May 07

Members of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) have been among the Christian minority in Iraq for more than 250 years.  Currently, there are Iraqi Dominican Friars, Sisters, and Laity struggling to survive conditions in their homeland.  As the International Dominican Co-Promoters for Justice and Peace at the Curia (headquarters) of the Order in Rome, Italy, we endorse the plea for protection of the Christian minority voiced recently by church leaders in Iraq.

Patriarch Mar Dinka IV of the Catholic Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Emmanuel Delly of Babylon called on Iraq's beleaguered government to protect their community from attacks by Al Qaeda-inspired Muslim extremists. In a joint statement, the patriarchs said that Baghdad's remaining Christians were facing persecution. In addition to calling on Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki's government to protect them, the patriarchs also urged the United Nations to intervene. Before the US invasion in March 2003 there were estimated to be around 800,000 Christians in Iraq, around 3 percent of the otherwise largely Muslim population, living mainly in urban centers such as Baghdad.  Although there were some attacks on churches in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq's Christians were not especially targeted while rival Sunni and Shiite Muslim factions went to war.   As a relatively wealthy community, however, many Christians fell prey to kidnap and ransom gangs and many - probably more than half - of them have fled the country or moved to the relative safety of Iraqi Kurdistan.

In a recent sermon, Patriarch Emmanuel Delly spoke out on the issue  according to the Al Mutamar newspaper stating : "We see that today we are being sent from our houses and forcibly displaced from our homeland and alienated from our brothers with whom we lived together" He also issued a call to all Christians  "I hereby send a plea in the name of all Christians to officials and to all those whose power is in their hands to bring about peace, security and stability among the sons of the homeland.” 

We support the Patriarch’s call and we urge all members of the world-wide Dominican Family to take the following ACTIONS as soon as possible:

CONTINUE TO PRAY for the people of Iraq, especially the persecuted Christian minority and, among them, our Dominican Sisters and Brothers.

CONTACT YOUR LOCAL BISHOP, PRESIDENTS OF NATIONAL CONFERENCES OF BISHOPS, AND THE PAPAL NUNCIO IN YOUR COUNTRY, urging  them to voice their concern about the deteriorating situation of the Christian minority in Iraq.

CONTACT YOUR GOVERNMENT to urge the occupying powers to ensure the protection of the Christian minority in Iraq.

We thank you for all your efforts to participate in this critical DOMINICAN ACTION ALERT. In all your actions remind your contacts that you speak as someone who has FAMILY IN IRAQ.

In Dominic and Catherine,

Prakash Lohale OP

Toni Harris OP  
International Dominican Co-Promoters for Justice and Peace


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Use this link to find the address of your local bishop.

Here are the addresses you need:

Bishop William Skylstad
President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington DC 20017-1194
Archbishop Pietro Sambi
Papal Nuncio for the United States

3339 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008


Dominicans for Justice and Peace and the Dominican Leadership Conference petitioned the United Nations Human Rights Council to address the basic human needs of refugees and displaced people in Iraq and the region.

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