Iraqi Christians in the U.S. are lamenting what they see as a “slow-motion genocide” of the faithful at the hands of the Islamic State in Iraq.
“We call this a slow-motion genocide,” Auday P. Arabo, the lay spokesman for the St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Diocese, an Eastern Rite church that is affiliated with Roman Catholicism, told the New York Times Saturday. “It’s unfortunate people don’t feel it until it hits home. But I guess it’s human nature that you only see what’s happening in the mirror,” he added.
In recent weeks, reports of Christians in Iraq and Syria being brutally beaten and killed by the Islamic State group have increased and there have been some reports of Christians being crucified.
Senior fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, Paul Marshall, called the present situation “the worst in modern history, and probably in history period.”
Both clergy and lay leaders have met with White House officials, Congress and the United Nations to discuss strategies and solutions, the news agency reported.
“What’s happening to us?” Bishop Francis Y. Kalabat, who was appointed by Pope Francis, said he recalls being asked. “Where’s our government? Where’s the U.S.? Where’s the world? Where’s the church? Where’s God?”
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“We are called the Church of Martyrs,” he said. “That’s our pain and our saving grace. Our faith isn’t a theory. It’s not a set of teachings. It’s a person and we’re called to be like him. When I look at this evil, I want to be Rambo. But that won’t do any good. We carry the cross for a reason.”
Over the past decade, the total Christian population of Iraq has dropped to about 400,000 and millions have fled the violence at the hands of jihadist militants, the New York times reports.
In an open letter posted in the church’s lobby, Bishop Kalabat wrote, “We wish to scream, but there are no ears that wish to hear.”