One of the least reported stories of the US invasion of Iraq has been its consequences for the church in that country. Once a fairly sizable minority, it’s estimated that half of Iraqi Christians have been either killed or forced to flee. When the government was overthrown at the beginning of the war, there was a predictable vacuum of power. In rushed the forces of anarchy and chaos. Yesterday, Salon.com did an Easter profile.
“We have been in Mesopotamia since the times of Hammurabi,” says Chaldean Catholic Monsignor Louis Shabi. Alluding to both their spiritual and national heritage, he adds, “We are the children of Abraham and Nebuchadnezzar. After 6,000 years of history on our shoulders, our future in Iraq does not go any further than tomorrow.”
In our own Easter service, we proclaimed that we are resurrection people. For us as a community, however, those are little more than words—sometimes that new creation peeks through. But for the church in Iraq, it is (and needs to be) a visible reality.
(The image is of Our Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad. Bullet holes are visible in the walls.)