.- “Without an end to this persecution and violence, there is no future for religious pluralism in Iraq or anywhere else in the Middle East for that matter,” said Iraqi Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil in a speech at Georgetown University on Feb. 15.
The Chaldean Archbishop spoke of the state of Christianity in Iraq today and what both Muslim and Western leaders can do to help protect religious minorities and rebuild their communities.
“We Christian people, who have endured persecution in patience and faith for 1,400 years now face an existential struggle. It is possibly the last struggle that we will face in Iraq,” said Warda at an event hosted by Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs.
After an attack by ISIS displaced more than 125,000 Christians, Warda said that there is a core of the faithful who will not leave their ancestral homeland in the Nineveh plains in Iraq.
In a single night, ISIS took nearly everything from the bishop’s flock, leaving them “without shelter, without refuge, without work, without properties, without monasteries, without the ability to participate in any of the things that give our lives dignity,” Warda said.
“And, yet, we are still there, scourged, wounded, yet still there,” he noted.
“So few of us are left, some estimate 200,000 Christians or less,” continued the Chaldean bishop. “While it is true that our numbers are small, the apostles were much smaller.”
When speaking of the suffering of his people, the Archbishop also spoke of forgiveness.
“We forgive those who murdered us, who tortured us, who raped us, who sought to destroy everything about us. We forgive them in the name of Christ.”
He said he believes that this message of forgiveness is something Christians can witness to their Muslim neighbors in the Middle East.
Read more at Catholic News Agency.