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."

 

IS bid to seize Kobane stalls amid air strikes

Six Tunisians killed in police-gunmen standoff

Iraq MPs divide over Kurds deployment to aid Kobane

Suspicious envelopes to consulates in Istanbul prompt alert

Morocco fossils: A rare and vanishing treasure

Germany offers to help Armenia forge peace with Turkey

Libya wakes up from ‘Dubai dream’ to face Somalia-like ‘failed state’

South Yemen separatists vow to intensify secession protests

Relatives of Iraq massacre victims: Blackwater guards should be killed

Ghannouchi makes it clear to Tunisia: It’s either political Islam or Daesh!

Deadly clashes erupt after army raid in northern Lebanon

200 Iraqi Kurd fighters to travel through Turkey to Kobane

Coalition strikes in Syria eliminate more than 500 jihadists in one month

Ahead of elections, new clashes remind Tunisia of need to fight terror

Saudi Arabia jails mothers for preparing sons to wage jihad

Jury finds Blackwater guards guilty of 2007 'massacre' in Iraq

Iraq Kurds approve reinforcements for Kobane

Israel classifies car crash as ‘hit and run terror attack’

Turkish woman arrested for stepping on Koran

Erdogan criticises US for airdrops on Kobane

Iraq schools provide shelter but late to open for classes

Syria air force shoots down two of three 'IS warplanes'

Egypt court rules on ‘Nasr City terror cell’

Fire from Egypt wounds two Israeli soldiers near border

By hook or by crook, settlers notch up property gains in East Jerusalem

Turkey envoy meets leader of parallel government in Libya

Israel arrests seven Palestinian fishermen off northern Gaza

Khamenei to Abadi: Iraq can beat 'Islamic State' without foreign troops

Saudi special court rules in cases of riots and terrorism

Libya army scores small victory in Benghazi

Only in Libya: Government calls for civil disobedience

Kasserine reaps bitter harvest from Tunisia revolution: Poverty and terrorism

Iraq Kurds set to vote on deployment of Peshmerga forces to Syria

Islamic State ‘share in US weapons’ embarrasses Pentagon

Alderton: Morocco unrivalled business gateway to sub-Saharan Africa

Protests over IS turn Istanbul University into war zone

Turkey eyes stricter punishment against lawbreakers at protests

For Sudan President: Promises are something and re-election is something else

Iran returns Abadi to ‘house of obedience’

From traditional military to counterinsurgency force: Syria army grows more capable

South Sudan rivals accept 'responsibility' for civil war

British drones in Iraq also used for Syria surveillance

Turkey launches new wave of wire-tapping arrests

Rise of Shiite militias challenges government authority in Iraq

Syria Kurds show impressive resistance to ‘Islamic State’ in Kobane