Extremists burn down Syro-Catholic bishopric in Mosul

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The situation Christians are facing in Iraq is becoming increasingly dramatic.The Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) extremists have burned down the Syro-Catholic bishopric in Mosul, the Patriarch of the Syro-Catholic Church, Ignace Joseph III Younan told Vatican Radio in a statement condemning the act. Pope Francis is following the developments in Iraq closely and with great concern as Christians are struggling to survive. After almost 2,000 years, there are now no Christians left in Mosul.

“The latest news is devastating,” Patriarch Younan told Vatican Radio. “We regretfully repeat what we have always said: Religion and politics should not be mixed together. If there is enmity between Shiites, Sunnis and whoever else, this is no reason to attack innocent Christians and other minorities in Mosul and elsewhere. Nor is it a reason to destroy places of worship, churches, bishoprics or parishes in the name of a so-called terrorist organization which will not listen to reason and has no conscience. With regret, we announce that our archbishopric in Mosul has been completely burnt down: manuscripts and the library have gone; And threats have already been issued: if Christians don’t convert to Islam, they will be killed. It is terrible! This brings shame on the entire international community.”

Mgr. Younan confirmed that Mosul is “empty of Christians.” There were about a dozen families which were forced to flee yesterday but they were robbed of all their possessions. They were dropped off just outside the city but they took all their possessions from them, they insulted them, left them there just like that in the middle of the desert. Unfortunately this is the way it is.” Christians who had to flee areas controlled by ISIS militia “have sought refuge in Kurdistan where they were welcomed, but the Kurdish Prime Minister said Kurdistan can no longer receive refugees because there are other minorities, Shiites, Yazidis… who fled Kurdistan. It’s terrible.”

According to the Syro-Catholic patriarch in order to stop Islamic extremists “all financial aid to them needs to stop. Who do they get their weapons from? From these extremist countries in the Gulf, with the approval of Western politicians, because they need their oil. Unfortunately this is the way things are. It really is shameful!” “We ask the international community to be faithful to the principles of human rights, religious freedom and the freedom of conscience. We are in Iraq, in Syria and in Lebanon: We Christians have not been imported, we have been here for millennia; we therefore deserve to be treated as human beings and citizens of these countries. They persecute us in the name of their religion and they do not only issue threats, they act on them: they burn and kill.”

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