Islamic Pressure Increases on Christian Communities

BAGHDAD, Iraq, APRIL 19, 2007 ( Christian churches in Baghdad have been forced to remove crosses as threats from Islamic extremists cause pressure to mount.

Wednesday was the bloodiest day in Baghdad since the start of U.S. security operations. Nearly 200 people were killed in a string of attacks in Iraq's capital. Meanwhile AsiaNews reported new threats to Christians.

The churches in the Dora region, a Christian quarter of Baghdad, have received threats from an unknown Islamic group, which warned: "Get rid of the cross or we will burn your churches."

Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad told AsiaNews: "In the last two months many churches have been forced to remove the crosses from their domes.

"In the case of the Church of St. George, in Assira, Muslim extremists took the situation into their own hands: They climbed onto the roof and ripped down the cross."

Bishop Warduni added that "in the Chaldean Church of St. John, in Dora, which has been without a pastor for months, the parishioners themselves decided to move the cross to a safer place following repeated threats."

The Church of Sts. Peter and Paul has received the same threats but so far has withstood the intimidation.


AsiaNews reported that the same unknown Islamic group active in Dora seems to have delivered an ultimatum to the Christian community there: Convert to Islam or die.

Reports say that they have delivered a fatwa forbidding Christians to wear crosses or make any religious gesture, and permitting the confiscation of goods and properties belonging to Christian families forced to flee their homes.

Baghdad's Christian community's worries have been increased by the U.S. military's decision to forcibly occupy the facilities of Babel College, which belongs to the Chaldean Church. The college, the only faculty of theology in the country, houses one of the most ancient religious libraries in the region, full of priceless manuscripts, AsiaNews reported.

Because of the increased insecurity in the city and continual abductions of religious, the faculty had transferred to Ankawa, in Kurdistan, last January, leaving the building empty.

The U.S. military is now using the college facilities as an observation outpost. Apparently, however, an agreement has been made to abandon the structure in coming weeks.

"The Iraqi people are tired," said Bishop Warduni. "We have been suffering for far too long and the situation has become unsustainable. We ask God to give us peace. The Christians, just like the Muslims, want to rebuild Iraq. We don’t want to be forced to flee, because this is where we were born, this is where we have lived our lives."

Code: ZE07041912

Date: 2007-04-19

Teachings of Christ

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7,8 ESV)


Blessed are You, O Christ our God, * Who has shown the fishermen to be all wise, * by sending down to them the Holy Spirit, * and through them You have caught the whole world in Your net. * O Lover of Mankind, glory to You. (Troparion - Tone 8)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

When the Most High descended, confusing tongues, * He divided the nations; * but when He distributed the tongues of fire, * He called all to unity; * and, with one voice, * we glorify the Most Holy Spirit. (Kontakion - Tone 8)

Saints and Martyrs

Adorned with the blood of Your Martyrs throughout the world, * as with purple and fine linen, * Your Church cries out to You through them: * "Send down Your compassions upon Your people. * Grant peace to Your commonwealth and great mercy to our souls." (Troparion - Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

As the first-fruits of nature to the Planter of Creation, * the whole world offers to You, O Lord, the God-bearing martyrs. * Through their prayers and the intercession of the Mother of God * preserve Your commonwealth, the Church, in profound peace, O Most Merciful One. (Kontakion - Tone 8)

Random Proverb

"Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold." (Proverbs 3:13,14 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

I pray Thee, compassionate Lord, do not allow me to be condemned because of the unworthy and ungrateful manner in which I contemplate the great mysteries that Thou hast revealed to Thy saints and through them to me, a sinner and Thy unworthy servant. For see, Lord, Thy servant stands before Thee, idle in everything, speechless, as one who is dead; and I do not dare to say anything more or to presumptuously contemplate further. But as always I fall down before Thee, crying from the depths of my soul. . . .

St. Peter of Damascus