Home | Sisters | Associates | Friars | Laity | Nuns | Link to Groups | World OP | DLC  
Care of Creation
Culture of Peace
Global Partnership

Find my Representative
in the
US House
US Senate

Contact the White House

To open a PDF document, you need Adobe Acrobat Reader,Click the icon follow the prompts. It is free, safe and secure.


Carlos Azpiroz Costa Implores Pontiff to Speak Out
on Behalf of Iraqi Christians

SANTA SABINA - June 5, 2007--As Pope Benedict XVI prepares to meet with President George W. Bush, June 9th during his visit to Europe for the G-8 Summit, Master of the Order, fr. Carlos Azpiroz Costa has asked the pope to intervene on behalf of the safety of persecuted Christians in Iraq.

In a letter prepared May 24th, fr. Carlos expressed his "grave concern" for the "security, and the future, of our Dominican Family members and the entire Christian community in Iraq." He asked the pope to intercede directly with President Bush on behalf of those threatened with violence and who are being killed, kidnapped and terrorized.

He said in the letter "I am writing to ask for your personal intervention and that of the Holy See on the Government of Iraq, the United Nations, the coalition armies and militant factions there to assure the protection of Iraq’s ancient Christian community. This community is under daily threat and have neither the protection of the government nor of the coalition forces."

Recent reports demonstrate a dramatic increase in the persecution of the Christian minority in Iraq including Dominican communities of sisters, friars and laity. On Sunday, June 3rd a Catholic priest, Fr Ragheed Ganni, 34, and three deacons were gunned down in front of Holy Spirit Church, Mosul. Their bodies were left in the street for several hours because people were afraid to tend to them.

Leaders of Iraq's Christian community estimate that over two-thirds of the country's Christian population has fled the country since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

While exact numbers are unknown, reports suggest that whole neighborhoods of Christians have cleared out in the cities of Baghdad and Al-Basrah, and that both Sunni and Shi'ite insurgent groups and militias have threatened Christians.

The gravity of the situation prompted Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani last week to ask Vice President Adil Abd al-Mahdi to take steps to protect the Christian community. Sunni imams in Baghdad have made similar statements to their congregations in Friday Prayer sermons. But there is little the government of Iraq can do to protect them.

The Dominican Order has been present in Iraq for over 250 years. Dominican friars, two congregations of sisters and hundreds of lay Dominicans live there. Many of them have fled to small villages outside of the larger cities in an effort to find safety.

Insurgents laid siege to the Al-Durah neighborhood of Baghdad earlier this month and demanded that Christians living there pay jizya, a head tax on non-Muslims living under Muslim rule, to the mujahedin or else convert to Islam. The Islamic State also hung posters throughout Al-Durah calling on Christian women to veil their faces. Locals report that nearly 200 Christian families have fled the neighborhood recently with just the clothes on their backs.

In other cases, families have been given 72 hours to pack their belongings and leave. Some have fled to Kurdistan, but the majority have left for Syria and Jordan, Christian leaders say.

[ Sources: RadioFreeEurope, CNS, CNN, International Justice Promoters]

Anne Lythgoe, OP
Editor, Domlife.org


Text of the letter from fr. Carlos to Benedict XVI

US Dominicans are being urged by the International Justice Promoters to contact local bishop, presidents of national conferences of bishoops and the papal nucio urging  them to voice their concern about the deteriorating situation of the Christian minority in Iraq. READ MORE

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.

Christian Persecution Continues to Escalate
Chaldean Priest and Three Deacons Killed in Mosul

Fr. Ganni

MOSUL-- June 4, 2007-- Fr Ragheed Ganni, 34, was hit by gunfire in front of the Church of the Holy Spirit and three deacons, who served as his aides, were also killed. The murder took place after Sunday Mass where Father Ragheed was parish priest. Sources report that hours later the bodies were still lying in the street because no one dared retrieve them. Tensions in the area remain high. Pope Benedict expressed his sadness at their deaths. READ MORE

subscribe to DomLife.org today and get a free email update every two weeks.