Iraqi bishop: Reconciliation is urgently needed to avoid civil war

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Iraqi bishop: Reconciliation is urgently needed to avoid civil war

Vatican Radio

The Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad, Saad Sirop Hanna, says he believes everyone in the Iraqi capital fears a civil war and the nation urgently needs a real reconciliation. He also said that many Christian families were coming to their parish churches to ask for their birth and baptism certificates as they were trying to flee Baghdad. Bishop Hanna’s comments came in the wake of the rapid advance of the insurgency being waged by the ISIS Islamic militants who have pledged to march on the capital after capturing a series of key cities and towns in northern Iraq.

Asked about the current mood of the inhabitants in Baghdad as fighting continues between pro-government forces and the ISIS militants further to the north, Bishop Sirop says there is a mood of fear in the Iraqi capital with many of its inhabitants not daring to venture out of their houses into the streets which are unusually “empty.” He said all Iraqis are frightened of how things will turn out in the coming days and weeks. “My opinion is that everyone here is fearing a civil war.”

Bishop Sirop said rather than trying to find a military solution there is a dire need for Iraqi Moslems, both Sunnis and Shi’ites, to come together around a negotiating table and resolve their differences peacefully. “We need a real reconciliation, we need it urgently.”

Turning to the plight of Baghdad’s dwindling Christian minority, Bishop Sirop says that since 2003 (and the US-led invasion), around two-thirds of Christians have left the city. Although Christians have been present in Baghdad for around 2,000 years, the prevailing insecurity and targeted attacks against them have caused many of them to fear for their future. The Iraqi bishop warned that “if we don’t change this situation” which depends on the government (to do) and if “the big problems with security” are not resolved, then "the consequences will be very dangerous” for the future of the nation’s ancient Christian community.

Sat, 06/21/2014 - 15:02
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