Sees a Kind of Genocide Underway

ROME, MARCH 1, 2007 ( A priest of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq laments that the faithful are "losing hope" in the war-torn nation.

Father Philip Najim, procurator to the Holy See for the patriarch of Babylon, commenting to ZENIT on the situation of Catholics in Iraq, said that the "only armament we have to create peace is our prayer."

Father Najim said that, in addition to traditional Lenten sacrifices, Iraqi Catholics need to witness the peace of Christ in their behavior and attitudes by drawing strength from God.

The priest described daily life in Iraq as a kind of genocide. The daily plague of kidnappings, deaths, bombings, fear and instability, coupled with the cumulative effects of the U.N.-imposed trade embargo that lasted 12 years, have all but demolished a culture that has roots deep in pre-Christian history.

He added that he hopes that Christians in Iraq will find new strength by turning to God anew this Lent: "When we find ourselves in very complicated situations, we often recognize the limits of our humanity and can find strength again in God, our Creator."

Father Najim said that Christians in Iraq date back to the first century. The Chaldean Church has its own patriarch, who is seated in Baghdad, and retains its own theological, liturgical and canonical traditions, while maintaining full communion with Rome.

In Baghdad before the war, 35 parishes were flourishing. Now, many of the churches have been destroyed, and priests are limited to celebrating the liturgy only on Sundays, he said.


Father Najim added that Chaldean Catholics in Europe number more than 80,000. These represent, in part, the "diaspora" who have fled Iraq to escape the bloodshed. In the United States, there are two Chaldean Catholic Dioceses that include many Iraqi expatriates.

Catholics in Iraq are a minority, but nonetheless, they play an important role, he added.

Regarding the role of the Church in Iraq, the priest said: "Christians bear a powerful witness by their attitudes and way of life.

"We have built our cultures and traditions, families, friendships and faith, and we have always been friends with our fellow Iraqis."

Father Najim said that Church leaders in Iraq have invited all people to pray for peace and unity during Lent.

He added: "The freedom and dignity of the person are primary in our Catholic faith, and they are the basis for peace.

"There can be no democracy unless it comes from within, and there can be no democracy without freedom."


Teachings of Christ

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30 ESV)

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

Random Proverb

"My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge." (Proverbs 5:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

The soul has followed Moses and the cloud, both of these serving as guides for those who would advance in virtue; Moses here represents the commandments of the Law; and the cloud that leads the way, its spiritual meaning. The soul has been purified by crossing the Sea; it has removed from itself and destroyed the enemy army. It has tasted of the waters of Marah, that is, of life deprived of all sinful pleasure; and this at first had seemed bitter and unpleasant to the taste but offered a sensation of sweetness to those who accepted the wood. Next it enjoyed the beauty of the palm trees of the gospel and the springs; it filled itself with the living water, that is, the rock. It took within itself the bread of heaven. It overwhelmed the foreign host - a victory due to the extended arms of the Lawgiver, which thus foreshadowed the mystery of the Cross. Only then can the soul go on to the contemplation of transcendent Being.

St. Gregory of Nyssa