Middle East in danger of losing all Christians: Christians should not be encouraged to flee an Iraqi priest urges

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Syrian refugees

Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I strongly disapprove of Christians migrating from Iraq and fleeing to Europe: “Any declaration that may incite our people to emigrate is irresponsible at this time”

“Now our people are criticising us. They want us to find them flights, visas and welcome centres in other countries. This is impossible. A state cannot do this. And neither can the Church.” Louis Raphael I is the Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, who harbours serious concerned about definite consequences of Europe’s new policy on refugees pouring in after fleeing Syria and other conflict zones.

Also read: Watching Christans leave is like experiencing death, a Syrian bishop says

“Last Friday, I met all heads of Churches in Baghdad at the Chaldean Cathedral, along with a number of nuns and priests. We are asking ourselves how this can be happening now after four years of war in Syria and 12 conflicts and massacres in Iraq. After the situation was allowed to deteriorate for so long. I am worried.”

While remarking about some of the European countries thinking about taking in only Christian refugees he said, “This should not happen. It would pose a problem for us too. It will encourage those who say they want to give a religious justification to war. Those on either side who say Christians cannot stay. European countries must give shelter to those who really need it, regardless of religion. And they must avoid acting blindly, helping those who put Christians’ skins on the line.”

He strongly disapproves of Christians fleeing from their ancestral lands and cites those encouraging them to flee wrong. “There are agencies and groups that help Christians get away. It is their mission to facilitate the exodus of Christians. They finance it. They work to push Christians to leave their countries and they openly admit to this, presenting it as something that benefits the persecuted. I don’t know what their strategy is. Perhaps when these countries have Christians out of the way, it will be easier to declare new wars, sell and experiment with new arms. These phenomena need to be examined instead of just chatting about them.”

He also said that churches are being urged to organise a mass escape of Christians but he said, “It means that there is a very real risk now of the Middle East, Iraq, Syria losing all its Christians. Any declaration that may incite our people to emigrate is irresponsible at this time. One cannot speak before they take all factors and possible consequences into consideration, as well as how our words might be interpreted.”

Howevere he discussed about the priests who escaoe from the country and take undue advantge of their position.“Priests and religious leaders who escape from the Middle East are “luxury emigrants”. They take advantage of their status, contacts and church support to escape, passing themselves off as persecuted people and use this label even to make money in some cases. Sometimes, they manage to set up profitable and sacrilegious businesses using the persecution keyword. Many of them have escaped from safe havens where there is no persecution and have then helped their entire family settle comfortably in North America. Without authorisation from their bishop and betraying the spirit of the good shepherd.”