I apologise for this circular letter, but I am writing out of a sense of distress.
I write in the light of today's news of the capture by Islamic militants of the ancient Christian city of Qaraqosh in Iraq. It is estimated that 200,000 Christians have now been forced to flee, and churches and manuscripts in the town are already being destroyed. I have a small though meaningful personal link with Qaraqosh.
When I was Parish Priest in Brook Green the Syrian Catholic Chaplain, Mgr Nizar Semaan, was (and still is) in residence there. He comes from Qaraqosh and often spoke to me about the city and its vibrant Christian life. We feel a deep sense of helplessness. Personally I feel that the time has come for intervention, but not everybody will share that, especially given the fact that the current collapse owes a great deal to our disastrous previous intervention. However, I notice that the French government has said that it will give priority to admitting Christian refugees from Iraq.
May I ask you - indeed, beg you - if you are willing, to contact your local MP and ask that there be similar consideration given to admitting refugees by the United Kingdom. You might also ask for that government to send aid to the refugees.
Those of you in the USA might consider an email to your congressional representative or senator, expressing your concern for the Christians of Iraq.
Finally, I attach an appeal from the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch, Louis Sako. Its anguish is plain to see: www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=25335
All good wishes
Fr Terry Tastard
St Mary’s, London N2 8HG