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."

 

Iran forces inside Iraq as Abadi rules out foreign ground intervention!

Qaeda inflicts heavy losses on Huthi rebels in central Yemen

Kerry seeks help of Southeast Asia in anti-Islamic State push

Turkey gives Iraq Peshmerga forces passage to Kobane

Cultural heartland of Al Ain hosts night of Emirati musical heritage

South Sudan rivals meet in new bid to end civil war

From Morocco into Spain: Crowd of African migrants charges to border fence

Deadly suicide attack targets Shiite mosque in central Baghdad

Israel to supply Egypt with natural gas despite sabotage

US carries out first weapon airdrops to Kurd fighters near Kobane

Benghazi violence kills 75 people in five days

Morocco accuses Algeria of firing on civilians across border

Australia finalises deal for deployment of Special Forces to Iraq

Tunisia calls on Libya authorities to locate missing journalists

Turkey rejects calls to arm ‘terrorist’ Kurdish party in Syria

Western powers threaten sanctions against hostile actors in Libya

New deadly terrorist attack targets Egypt army in Sinai

‘Islamic State’ suffers heavy losses in Syria battleground of Kobane

After full formation of Iraq government, time comes to visit Iran

UN appeals for four-day truce in Western Libya

Gaza tunnel collapses before demolition: At least 3 Egypt soldiers dead

Erdogan begins one-day visit to Afghanistan

After weeks of delay, Iraq gets new security ministers

Diplomats scold Turkey over ambiguous relation with Islamic State

Lebanon pleads for Iran military aid to fight Islamic State

Kurds repulse new jihadist attempt to cut off Syria town

Huthi rebels meet fierce resistance in Yemen Sunni areas

Former Iraqi pilots train IS to fly Syria fighter jets

Two Millstones Drowning America into Premature Oblivion

Iraqi forces launch anti-IS operation north of Tikrit

Ben Ali cohorts planning comeback in Tunisia polls

Battle for Libya's Benghazi heats up

Kurdish fighters still holding out in Syria's Kobane

Russia denies agreed with US on IS intelligence-sharing

Saudi’s National Commercial Bank to offer $3.6 billion IPO

Qaeda counters advancing rebels with Yemen town seizure

Iran warns Saudi cleric death sentence could escalate tensions

No breakthrough in US-Iran intense nuclear talks

Kuwait ends decades of diesel, kerosene subsidies

US airstrikes ‘push back’ IS in Kobane

New desperate attempt to reach Europe: Hundreds storm Morocco-Spain border

Turkey Kurdish party plans talks with armed PKK rebels in Iraq

Iraq beats back ‘Islamic State’ assault on Ramadi

Saudi court sentences Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr to death

Iran nuclear talks: Search for elusive breakthrough begins