Iraq: US army returns theological college to Church

 In the midst of so much suffering, pain, denied rights, and discrimination, the Catholic Church in Iraq has good news: on 6 November, the Baghdad headquarters of Babel College, the only Christian theological faculty in Iraq, was returned to its owner, the Chaldean Church, by the American army that occupied them since the end of March 2007.

The activities hosted by the complex, which is affiliated to the Urbaniana University of Rome, a dependent of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, had been transferred to Ankawa, in the north of the country, controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government, where they are still functioning. The Chaldean major seminary of St Peter and the Institute of Religious Sciences for the preparation of catechists were also transferred, for reasons of security.

However, the hope of one day returning to Baghdad never vanished, say the College's directors, all of whom hope that the sector of Dora (where it is located) will become one of the Christian centres of Baghdad, as Babel College Rector Monsignor Jacques Isaac told the information service "Baghdad Hope."

Now, after 19 months, the Babel College is back in the hands of Chaldean church following the new American policy to leave the control of the streets to the Iraqi army.

The US Army has agreed to restore the damaged parts of the buildings and replace what was destroyed, including classroom equipment.

Mgr Isaac said: "the library was not damaged because it has always been kept closed. Not even the chapel was damaged because, given the presence of a chaplain, it was used for what it is: a place of worship."

The Rector hopes that, once the restoration is finished, classes can resume.

"We hope that all is in Dora - the faculty, the Institute, the seminary - could return to operate as before. But this does not mean that the sections created in Ankawa will be closed. In recent months we realized their worth in the north and we intend to keep them working also there."

He added that the security of the complex is now in the hands of the Iraqi army. If it performs its duty it will be a proof of the will of the government to respect minorities.

Source: Fides

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