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Iraq exodus ‘gets worse’

23 March 2011

by Ed Beavan

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of a continuing exodus of Christians from the Middle East. He was welcoming the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Erbil, in Iraq, to Lambeth Palace last week.

Dr Williams praised the “cour­ageous witness” of Archbishop Bashar Warda in northern Iraq, “in the face of increasing violence”. He said that the decline of Christians in the region “as a direct result of appalling intimidation by extremists is still something that not enough people here are aware of”.

Archbishop Warda also visited Dundalk, in Ireland, during his trip, and launched the 2011 edition of Aid to the Church in Need’s report on persecuted Christians, Persecuted and Forgotten?

During his address, he said that Iraq was suffering a “crisis in cultural change”, and was a region “which cannot decide if it is for democracy or Islamic law”.

He spoke of a systematic bombing-campaign against Iraqi churches since 2004, and said that, last year alone, about 4000 Christian families fled Iraq’s cities for Erbil.

Bishop visits Iraq. The former Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, visited Baghdad last week to see the work of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, led by Canon Andrew White.

Dr Nazir-Ali visited St George’s, Baghdad, and said that he was “amazed at the level of disruption” people faced in the city.

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