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French cardinal ‘urged Iraqi Christians to remain in homeland’

Christians demonstrate in the Kurdish city of Irbil, Iraq (Photo: CNS)

Iraqi Christians driven from their homes by Islamist terrorists should not flee their country, a French cardinal reportedly said this week.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon celebrated Mass in St Joseph’s Church, Ankawa, and was quoted as telling the Iraqis that Pope Francis wanted Christians to remain there.

Sahar Mansour, a refugee who attended the July 28 Mass for peace in Iraq, said the cardinal told the congregation of more than 1,000 people, many of whom had fled Mosul as the city fell to Islamic State fighters in June, that the Pope’s wish was for them “to be strong and stay in their homeland” and to follow the example of Christ.

She said Cardinal Barbarin, who was joined by French Bishop Michel Dubost of Evry and Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad, among others, also told worshippers that he had twinned his own archdiocese with the Church in Mosul.

About 3,500 Christian families are living in a refugee camp at Ankawa, and many of them wish to seek asylum in either Europe or the United States, according to Miss Mansour.

France has been forthright in its condemnation of the persecution of the Iraqi Church; at least two government ministers expressed outrage at Islamist abuses against Christians and promised to grant asylum to those refugees who wish to leave Iraq.


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