Skip to comments.Iraq: (French) Cardinal Barbarin stands by Mosulís refugees
Posted on 07/31/2014 3:21:00 PM PDT by NYer
BARBARIN ON HIS VISIT TO IRAQ (PHOTO BY: LYON.CATHOLIQUE.FR)
On Saturday he was out in the streets of Mosul demonstrating, in an act of solidarity towards the citys Christians who are forced to flee their homes. On Monday he flew to Erbil in person to go and meet Christians. The Archbishop of Lyon, Philippe Barbarin, one of the French Catholic Churchs most well known figures in in Iraq at this very moment. Having been born in Morocco and been at the forefront of Islamic-Christian dialogue (a year or so ago, for example, he and the Imam of Lyon went on a pilgrimage to the Algerian village of Tibhirine, where some monks were tragically assassinated), Barbarin saw this visit as a must. His gesture is part of a broader action being taken by the entire Catholic community in France.
Barbarin concludes his visit tomorrow. He is accompanied by the Bishop of Evry, Michel Dubost (who was also born in Morocco and is President of the Council for Interreligious Relations of the French Bishops' Conference) and Mogr. Pascal Gollnisch, director of Ouvre dOrient, a French charity which supports Middle Eastern Christians.
The group arrived in Erbil on Monday and met Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako along with some of Mosuls displaced people. During a liturgy celebrated in St. Josephs Cathedral in the largest city of the Kurdistan region, Barbarin announced the twinning of the diocese of Lyon with the diocese of Mosul. This was to show that their solidarity was not just a passing emotion.
On Tuesday the group visited Qaraqosh, a city in the Nineveh Plain, twenty or so kilometres from Mosul which also witnessed a mass exodus when the Caliphates militants opened fire on the Kurds who controlled it. The refugee situation in Qaraqosh is worse than any other city. It is now home to 50 thousand refugees and faced with a water shortage. Another Catholic NGO, SOS Eastern Christians, has started digging a deeper well in order to address the problem.
Yesterday Barbarins delegation visited Alqosh and Malabrwan in northern Iraq, where Mosuls displaced Christians have sought shelter. Barbarin listened to people describe the odyssey they have been experiencing in the past few weeks. Stories of families being looted at the checkpoints set up by Islamist militants; stories of people being told that if they converted to Islam they would have everything back; the tears of those who see no longer see a future.
Cardinal Barbarin made the people of Qaraqosh a promise: I will recite the Our Father in Aramaic your language, the language of Syriac Christians - every single day until you are able to return to Mosul, he said. Yesterday the archbishop talked about his trip in an interview published on the Famille Chrétienne website. You cannot imagine how important this visit of yours is: you have given them back their courage. They can see that there is physically someone thinking of them, Patriarch Sako told me, Barbarin said.
The archbishop took the opportunity during the interview to comment on the willingness of the French government to offer asylum to Iraqi Christians. I am puzzled by this proposal, Barbarin said from Iraq. Of course it is an act of generosity but I fear it will cause a great deal of confusion. Many Christians will think to themselves: Lets go, its best to leave than to stay here and die. And it is understandable that what they want more than anything else is to save their own lives and those of their families. But who does France intend to shelter? Will it welcome in ten to forty thousand Christians? And if they are then given visas and are generously welcomed in France, who will encourage them to stay here? There were already people queueing outside the consulate this morning. The situation will not improve and violence will not stop by getting all Christians out of Iraq, the archbishop said.