An international Christian advocacy and aid group reached Erbil and put across a horrible truth- there is no Church in Mosul.
Archbishop Coakley says, “When we were in Erbil, we met with Archbishop Amel Nona, Chaldean Catholic Archeparch of Mosul, now exiled in Erbil who along with his priests and all of the faithful of the archdiocese, have been driven out.”
“He is, in effect, the archbishop of a Church that no longer exists. They’ve all been scattered. There are no more Christians in his archdiocese. That’s a traumatic, but illustrative situation, of what’s happening there, and what can happen, if things don’t improve,” he continued.
There are in fact two Catholic archbishops of Mosul: one for Chaldean, and one for Syriac Catholics. Both of them, as well as three Orthodox bishops, were forced from their homes along with their people by the Islamic State in mid-July.
“Some of the fears that we were hearing from the bishops, particularly in Iraq, was that the Middle East is going to soon be without Christians. Christians have been in the Middle East for 1,800 years, or more, 1,900, 2,000 years, and they’re being squeezed out completely.”
“At this point it’s premature to know where all these people are going to finally end up” in the long run, the archbishop commented. “Without something rather dramatic occurring with ISIS that would provide security for Christians, it’s not likely that they would be able to return to ISIS-controlled areas. But I think whether they would stay in Iraq in the Kurdish region where they presently are, around Dohuk and Erbil, or whether they might migrate to other parts of the Middle East, or migrate to Europe, or North America, it’s premature to know.”
He added, however, that both the local government – he met with the prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan, Nechervan Barzani – and local bishops “would like to keep them close, within their own communities.”
“We found that the local government in the Kurdistan region, the prime minister included, were very concerned that they don’t lose the Christian population. It seems the Kurdish government is very tolerant of religious diversity … it’s a very religiously diverse area.”