By Blanca Ruiz
Erbil, Iraq, Jan 9, 2015 / 12:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Emil Nona is the Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, the Iraqi city overrun by the Islamic State last summer. Since then, he has brought the voice of the Christians of Iraq to the West."For us the faith is everything. It is our life, our identity, our history and our way of life. We can’t separate ourselves from our faith in any way," Archbishop Nona told CNA. "Our faith, which has been in this land for more than 2,000 years, cannot come to an end so easily."
He speaks with the clarity of someone who knows that without international help soon, more of the region will become territory of the Islamic State. Christians will have to abandon Iraq for good in order to save their lives and escape persecution and they will leave behind a land where Catholics have been present for more than 2,000 years.
The Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul said, “Most Christians plan to leave Iraq because they thought the crisis would be short-lived and after we would return to our homes, but this has not been the case. There have been no positive signs in the last six months that our land will be liberated. The Islamic State is becoming increasingly stronger."
No plans for liberation
Although shortages are widespread in Iraq, thanks to Aid to the Church in Need shelter is being provided for more than 120,000 displaced Christians in northern Iraq. There temperatures in the winter drop to single digits, and so large tents have been set up so families can come together and stay warm. Space is limited but the people are grateful not to be exposed to the elements.
In addition, help from Aid to the Church in Need made it possible for thousands of refugee children to receive a Christmas present, and plans are underway to set up schools so that children can continue studying until the situation becomes normal again.
The shortages are widespread, but what this group of Christians lacks most isn’t material things, but hope, as there are no signs things will improve.
"They have lost faith in their land, where they have lived for thousands of years. They have lost faith in Muslim society because they helped loot our homes. Now they live in waiting, not knowing what is going to happen. The only thing they haven’t lost is their Christian faith. We are proud because none of the 120,000 people in this area has converted to Islam," the archbishop explained.
Faced with the choice of converting to Islam or death, the Christians of Mosul have preferred to die rather than deny the faith.
In this desperate situation, Christians there do not complain or cry out to God for justice. "When something like this happens, we in the East thank God for everything. Because we know well that man is the cause of this problem, not God. In this situation, the existence of God is more necessary than ever, the presence of God is more powerful," Archbishop Nona said.
"When there is such brutal violence on the part of man, the presence of God is even stronger, because He is good. We believe even more, because it is more necessary than ever to believe amidst a situation as extreme as this one.”
The question of where is God in this persecution is a question "only you in the West pose. In the East we never ask that question. For us faith is enmeshed with our identity and the faith cannot be separated from our identity."
These martyrs of the faith only ask that the rest of the world not forget about them, about their suffering, about the injustice they have endured each day for more than six months. For this reason, whenever they receive help it means much more than just a solution to the lack of shelter or food.
"This aid is not only material but also shows that other Christians have not forgotten about us and experience the needs of Christians in Iraq as their own. We cannot ask them to stay in their land suffering if we do not help," Archbishop Nona said.
"We can’t know what will happen but up to now we have not seen any positive signs that our land and peoples will be liberated. Islamic militants are in the city of Mosul, on the Nineveh plain, in much of Iraq, but the Iraqi army does nothing to liberate these lands. We do not know the exact reason why we are not liberated and why there are only air raids. Up to now we haven’t seen any region liberated, much less any plans for liberation," Archbishop Nona said.
Radicalization in Iraq since 2003 read more via
IEDs a fact of daily life and a threat to life and limb:
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The Anchoress writes in Not believing is even worse of her conversation with a Muslim cab driver in Brooklyn:
“God is merciful,” he said. “Many people, all kinds of people, try to live in this way. My people, some Christian people, some Jewish people, they all try, but it is not always easy, as some think it is.”
“No, but we try.” I mused. “We people of faith all try to live it, and we all believe, and yet we have no peace between us.”
He shrugged. I got the impression that this was a conversation neither of us would be having, if one of us did not have our back to the other. “Faith is good,” he mused. “But peace…is difficult. We all believe different things.”
Ah, the eternal struggle – the mobius upon which we all ride and cannot escape. Why can’t believers simply allow other believers their beliefs? Because they believe.
I teased the driver, “maybe, then, we believers should just stop believing, and that would solve everything.”
“No, no,” he answered very seriously. “Not believing is even worse.”
Alisyn Camerota wrote of a conversation with an Iraqi Colonel over dinner at his home in Baghdad:
“One day, while he and his oldest son (His four sons were named after the followers of the Prophet Mohammed.) worked his shop, three armed men came in and kidnapped them. For three days COL M. was beaten and tortured and when he wasn’t being tortured, he listened to the screams of his teenage son in the next room receiving the same treatment.
I told him I was sorry for the loss of his family members and hoped that this was not the future of Iraq. I said good night and left. As we walked to the Humvee, I felt a little uneasy about showing him my family pictures. Had I made that cultural flaw that would ruin our relationship? In the back ground, an Iraqi Jundi called to us. My interpreter ran back inside the building. When he returned, he handed me a plastic bag with some photographs, “the Colonel wants you to see these and bring them back tomorrow.”
We drove the bumpy ride home and by midnight I was looking at my secret plastic bag with the white label in English on the outside. It was about a dozen photographs of him and his son whipped across their backs, arms, legs and heads; facial expressions of broken men. His wounds had the consistency of being whipped by a piece of cane, the skin exploding with each strike swelling from the inside as the blood rushed to the surface. COL Ms upper left arm severely bruised and bloodied from different techniques of punching, pulling, twisting and whipping. The left side of his back split open and bruised as well from three days worth of continued beatings. He and his son tortured over a name and religion, beaten because his son was named after the follower of a Prophet.”
We all suffer for believing; not believing is even worse. Our coming together will be a work of God, Who hears the prayers of all who believe. Those who don’t believe do not escape suffering, but here there is no prayer.
Ed Morrisey recommends Brothers at War
Jake Rademacher who made the documentary said of it:
“The honest storytelling of “Brothers At War” has received praise from war fighters, veterans, military families, Hollywood celebrities, and now Medal of Honor recipients. Join them by supporting this film which gives a true depiction of our nation’s warriors and their families.”
Michael Yon says, “Gary Sinise has gotten personally involved in promoting this movie.”
“The film follows Jake’s exploits as he risks everything—including his life—to tell his brothers’ story. Often humorous, but sometimes downright lethal, BROTHERS AT WAR is a remarkable journey where Jake embeds with four combat units in Iraq. Unprecedented access to U.S. and Iraqi combat units take him behind the camouflage curtain with secret reconnaissance troops on the Syrian border, into sniper “Hide Sites” in the Sunni Triangle, through raging machine gun battles with the Iraqi Army.”