First Published: 2010-12-21

 

Holy Land prelate: Plight of Iraq Christians dire

 

Jerusalem's Latin Patriarch condemns violence against Iraqi Christians, says it is pity to empty Iraq of them.

 

Middle East Online

Shocked and troubled by the massacre of Christians in Baghdad

JERUSALEM - In a sombre pre-Christmas address Tuesday, the Middle East's senior Catholic cleric expressed concern about the plight of Iraqi Christians and the collapse of talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Jerusalem's Latin Patriarch Fuad Twal offered his solidarity and support to Christians in Iraq after a bloody October hostage-taking at a Baghdad cathedrak that killed 44 worshippers, two priests and seven security force personnel.

"We were shocked and troubled by the massacre of Christians in Baghdad in the Church of Perpetual Help," Twal said in his Jerusalem headquarters.

"We condemn this violence. It's a pity to empty Iraq of its Christian citizens... It's a pity for us, for the Muslims themselves, for Iraq, for the Christians themselves.

"For the Iraqi Christians, we are with them in this bad situation," he added, noting the sharp drop in the number of Christians in Iraq from about 800,000 at the time of the US-led invasion of 2003 to about 500,000 now.

"We hope that even in Iraq, peace will be established and some of them can go back to their country, to their homes, to their churches, to their villages."

Earlier this month, Pope Benedict XVI called for "Christ's followers" to be defended in Africa, Asia and the Middle East and warned governments not to allow "anti-religious fanaticism."

Twal also used his traditional address ahead of Christmas to lament the failure of direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and called on Europe to take a more active role in pushing for a solution.

"What I ask Europe is to have a more political role in the process of peace in the Middle East," he told reporters.

"Europe helps us financially a lot, we ask them to be more involved if it is possible, if there is room for them, that's the question, till now they have been excluded from the process."

Israel and the Palestinians began direct peace talks on September 2 after a hiatus of nearly two years, but the negotiations ground to a halt just three weeks later with the expiry of 10 months of Israeli restrictions on settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinians have said they will not negotiate while Israel builds on land they want for their promised state, but Washington failed to secure a renewal of the Israeli restrictions and has now called for indirect peace talks instead.

Twal said the breakdown of talks "should not lead us to despair."

"We continue to believe that on both sides, and in the international community, there are men of goodwill who will work and put their energies together in their commitment for peace," he said in his address.

"We believe that nothing is impossible with God."

 

Libya cannot take more than 10 ministers

US House gives green light to plan to arm Syria rebels

Bahrain slams Qatar for offering citizenship to Sunni nationals

UN brokers Israeli-Palestinian deal on Gaza reconstruction

Scottish independence campaigners find support in Palestinian bagpipers

Majority of Americans believe Obama mishandled terror threats

‘Islamic State’ releases video of captive British journalist

France approves bill to crack down on jihadists

Assassination of Libya ex-air force chief in Benghazi

14 Bahraini Shiites sentenced to life in prison for bombing

IS jihadists close in on Syria third largest Kurdish town

Yemen rebels clash with Sunni Islamists

New Turkish safety law costs 5,000 coal miners jobs

Libya PM presents new cabinet in Tobruk

Davutoglu denounces ruling against Turkey’s religion courses

South Sudan to revoke expulsion of foreign workers

Algeria to tighten grip on imam training

Libya Islamists unleash another offensive on Benghazi airport

Iraqi bishop: Operations against IS in Iraq came very late

French parliament approves new anti-terror bill

World Bank calls for sweeping reforms in Tunisia

Obama to meet with generals planning IS assault

Iraq parliament votes down PM's security nominees

Qaeda branches urge jihadists to unite against US

Despite war, South Sudan replaces foreign workers with locals

IS jihadists shoot down Syria warplane

Renegade former general claims air raid on Libya militia position

Six Egypt policemen in Sinai bomb attack

Erdogan: Turkey would welcome exiled Brotherhood leaders

US warplanes carry out first strikes on IS near Baghdad

UEFA urged not to award 2020 European Championship to Israel

Israel sees future war with Hezbollah

Germany tries first 'Islamic State jihadist'

Egypt court bails top 2011 revolt activist

Iran rejected US request to cooperate against IS

Iran ridicules anti-jihadist international conference

Egypt textile factory collapse kills six

Mali separatists agree to speak with one voice

Qatar starts to curb Brotherhood’s activities

Coalition meets in Paris to plan fight against IS

Around 930 French citizens or residents involved 'in jihad' in Iraq, Syria

Yemen rebels, officials to meet with UN to end standoff

Qatar-based Egypt's Brotherhood leaders to relocate

Cameron chairs emergency meeting over British hostage beheading

Hollande defends arming Kurds against IS