Thursday, November 09, 2006

Chaldean archbishop calls for Christian unity in Iraq.

Not long after I completed this morning's post on the situation of Lebanese Christians, I came across this article on developments in Iraq. Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Louis Sako has called for a meeting of leaders of all the Christian denominations in Iraq, with the goal of formulating a common strategy to defend the rights of Iraqi Christians and stem the tide of Christian emigration from the country. Archbishop Sako's call comes a little more than a week after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued an open letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calling on the U.S. government to do more to help beleaguered Iraqi Christians. Though the effect that Archbishop Sako's appeal and the USCCB letter will have remains to be seen, both developments give me hope that Christians inside and outside of Iraq are beginning to take a more proactive approach to an increasingly desperate situation.

Archbishop Sako's proposal and the USCCB letter both face great challenges. The "general conference" of Iraqi Christians that Archbishop Sako envisions will succeed only if leaders of the various Christian communities in the country can look past sectarian differences in order to work together on common concerns like the protection of religious freedom and economic development in Christian areas. The USCCB letter goes beyond platitudes by suggesting specific steps the U.S. government could take to improve the situation of Christians in Iraq. If the letter is to have any effect, its release must be combined with persistent and effective lobbying efforts by the U.S. Catholic Bishops - including greater efforts to educate people in the pews about the plight of their coreligionists in Iraq. Archbishop Sako's appeal and the USCCB letter both offer a glimmer of hope for Iraqi Christians, but much more still needs to be done. AMDG.


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