Islamic State invasion 'pure and simple religious cleansing and attempted genocide'
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/29/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan has returned from the Kurdish region of Iraq, and what he has seen has been harrowing indeed. What he made of the handiwork of Islamic State, he said, "is a pure and simple religious cleansing and attempted genocide."
Patriarch Younan says that in the Kurdistan region, "we saw hundreds of families still living on the streets, exposed to an unbearable heat wave, lacking the basic needs and primarily fearing for their future."
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "What we, the five patriarchs, saw in Ankawa, Irbil and other cities of Kurdistan, was something indescribable in terms of the violation of human rights and the threat of disappearing of various communities among the vulnerable minorities of Northern Iraq," Younan said.
Patriarch Younan, along with Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II stayed in Iraq for six days after arriving. They were part of a delegation of Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs who visited Irbil to give moral and spiritual support to Iraqis from the Ninevah Plain.
Displaced minorities, which included Christians, Yezidis, Shiite Muslims and Shabaks have sought refuge there. Towns and villages have fallen to Islamic State militants in early August.
Patriarch Younan says that in the Kurdistan region, "we saw hundreds of families still living on the streets, exposed to an unbearable heat wave, lacking the basic needs and primarily fearing for their future," as winter approaches, Patriarch Younan said.
Scorching temperatures in the Kurdish region currently climb above 105 degrees - and yet the winters there are harsh and freezing, often with torrential rain and snow.
Patriarch Younan said the most-asked question by many of the Christian refugees was, "Can we ever return?"
"At that question, the most feared answer was: No answer could be given," he said.
With the paltry financial assistance they could offer the displaced, the patriarchs "prayed with them, consoling, encouraging and inspiring them with Christian 'Hope against all hope,' repeatedly reminding them of the promise of the Lord: 'Do not be afraid, you little flock. I will be with you until the end of time.'"
"The church's leaders committed themselves to sound the alarm of the very survival of Christians in Iraq and in the whole Middle East region and pledged to bring the plight of their people to all international arenas: the (UN) Security Council, the United States of America, the European Union, as well to Russia and China," Patriarch Younan said.
Meeting at Bkerke, north of Beirut the patriarchs further addressed the crisis. Local media in Beirut reported that Cardinal Bechara Rai, the Maronite patriarch, was scheduled to meet with Pope Francis shortly.
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