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Iraqi church leaders issue new appeal for end to violence

Bombed church, Mosul

Bombed church, Mosul

Recent violence in Iraq has led Iraqi church leaders to issue a new statement calling on “all government officials and political parties in order to give priority to the public interest and the security of citizens.”

The statement, released Thursday 6 May, by the Council of the Christian Church Leaders of Iraq (CCCLI), came after an emergency meeting of the council in Qaraqosh. At the time the church leaders were responding to a 2 May attack in the northern city of Mosul, where buses carrying Christian university students travelling from the center of the district of Hamdaniya to the University of Mosul were bombed. One person was killed and some 188 men and women were injured, some seriously.

Since then more attacks have taken place throughout Iraq according to news reports, although not all were against Christians. Attacks during the past few days have killed more than 100 people and injured hundreds of others.

The wave of violence comes after contentious national elections and at a time when the country is struggling to form a new government.

“As we express our solidarity with the people of Iraq, and convey our condolences to the families of the victims, we are very concerned about the new escalation of violence against Christians in Mosul,” Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches said today.

“We urge all parties and members of the Iraqi administration to take up their responsibility in bringing security and stability to the country and insuring the safety of Iraqi citizens,” he said.

The church leaders of Iraq closed their statement saying: “We pray to God to give comfort to the martyrs and a quick recovery to the wounded and to protect our country from all harm, and to restore to us the gift of peace and stability.”

The church council was formed in February of this year and includes all patriarchs, archbishops, bishops and heads of churches in Iraq from the 14 Christian communities registered in Iraq since 1982. Their churches belong to the Catholic, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox as well as Protestant traditions.

The aim of the new council is to unite the opinion, position and decision of the churches in Iraq on issues related to the churches and the state.

The council intends to do so by upholding and strengthening the Christian presence, promoting cooperation and joint action without interfering in private matters of the churches or their related entities.