ICC Note: As ISIS continues to hold rule over areas in Iraq, the Christian population is fearing the eradication of their communities forever. Archbishop Yousif Mirkis has repeated the fears of many that we are witnessing the end of Christianity in Iraq. ISIS continues to subject Christians to increased taxes for their faith, kidnappings, and the destruction of worship centers with no international condemnation for this religious persecution. With this violence surrounding the Church in Iraq, Archbishop Mirkis will not abandon his hope that Christianity may remain present in the region.
07/14/14 Iraq (Patheos Catholic News) – Two Iraqi archbishops are seeking “faith and hope” in Iraq, while bewailing the continuing exodus of Christians from the country amid continued violence.
Archbishop Yousif Mirkis heads the Chaldean Archdiocese of Kirkuk, in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region.
He said that he “quite definitely” fears the end of Christianity in Iraq.
“We are in the process of disappearing, just as the Christians in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and North Africa have disappeared. And even in Lebanon they now constitute only a minority,” he told the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need July 8.
Archbishop Mirkis said he is not resigned to defeat, but “trying to be realistic.”
“There is still the hope that faith brings,” he said. While he himself will not leave Iraq, he said he understands why young Christians are leaving in the wake of so many violent deaths.
“In the past ten years we have lost a bishop and six priests. In addition there are about a thousand of the faithful who have died in attacks.”
“Not everybody shares the faith and the hope.”
The Christian population in Iraq has plummeted to 400,000, down from about 1.5 million before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Their situation has worsened further since June, when insurgents with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant seized a sizeable amount of territory in north-western Iraq.
According to U.N. figures, acts of violence and terrorism killed at least 2,400 Iraqis and 1,500 civilians in June alone. The violence has also driven more than 1 million people from their homes.