Iraqi Christians Rejoice Over Liberation of Qaraqosh

By Maria Lozano

Christians in Kurdish Iraq celebrating the liberation of Qaraqosh; ACN photo

Christians in Kurdish Iraq celebrating the liberation of Qaraqosh; ACN photo

NEW YORK (Oct. 19, 2016)—Qaraqosh, a formerly major Christian town on Iraq’s Nineveh Plain has been liberated as part of the campaign to liberate Mosul, Iraq’s largest city. Before ISIS overran the Plane in the summer of 2014, Qaraqosh, which is also knows Baghdida, had a population of 50,000, the great majority of them Christian. The city has 10 churches. All of the inhabitants fled to Kurdish Iraq—and are now beginning to dream of a return to their homes.

Speaking from exile in France, Aded, who lost a son and nephew when ISIS attacked the city, said: “Today all the Christians who used to live in this area are very happy, yet we are worried about the future. People are afraid to return to their homes, and as long as there are no international forces to protect them, they will not return.”

Newly ordained Chaldean priest Father Martin Baani, speaking from Baghad with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (CAN), said: “The first thing I want to do is to give thanks to God. I am so happy. I always believed it would happen one day, but I almost cannot wait to see the town. When I heard the news, I thought: good has triumphed over evil. God does not want to see his people still more unhappy; he wants us to be happy. We are very happy, and we are praying to be able to return to our homes one day. Now the eyes of the whole world are on Mosul.”

Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Rafael Louis Sako I spoke from Berlin: “I hope the liberation of Mosul and the Nineveh plain that has started can be successful. This is a sign of hope for all of us. After the liberation and the end of these conflicts, the Western governments involved should assist the refugees in returning to their homes; securing areas of conflict; providing full protection for them; restoring their rights and properties; contributing to the reconstruction of towns and cities; compensating the resulted damages and helping the restoration of the cultural and religious heritage of all its components.”

George Marlin, Chairman of ACNUSA, said: “This is a great beginning of the battle to oust ISIS from Iraq—and ultimately Syria—altogether. But we must be patient and be prepared for the huge challenge of making it possible for Christians to return to their homes and to guarantee their security for the long term. One thing is certain: Aid to the Church in Need will do everything possible to continue to help them.”

Since 2014, ACN has provided more than $24M million in aid for the Christians of Iraq, supplying emergency aid and funding projects for education, food and shelter for the refugees.

Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action. Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world. The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide. For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384. www.churchinneed.org