Sunday, April 13, 2003

Two articles on Palm Sunday with Iraqi Christians:

From the AP in Baghdad:

Beneath the stained-glass windows at Our Lady of Deliverance, a church of Iraq's tiny Christian minority, parishioners collected their Palm Sunday olive branches, representing the palm fronds that welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem. Their welcome for the U.S. Marines in east Baghdad is less than a hosanna, however. "We're happy the Americans have ended the regime," said Msgr. Raphael Qutiimi, the pastor. "But that's not enough. They need to quickly return security and stability and peace. If they don't act, the looting will continue." the peaceful courtyard of Our Lady of Deliverance, an elegant 72-year-old woman, a former secretary for international companies, also uttered a harsh word, when asked what she thought of the quieting war.

"Massacre," she muttered in English. Asked again, she repeated, "Massacre!"

She referred to the uncounted Iraqi civilian deaths at U.S.-British hands. "We have no idea," she said of the conflict's ultimate meaning for Iraq. "We'll have to wait and judge later, and maybe we'll thank God for it."

...and in Kirkuk

Christians at the cathedral in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk said on Sunday their prayers for peace had been answered, but what comes after the fall of Saddam Hussein is what worries them now.At the first mass for Iraq's Chaldean Catholic minority since government forces collapsed on Thursday and U.S. troops moved in, Bishop Andraus Sanna said in a sermon delivered in Arabic that his flock had much to be grateful for.But having enjoyed relative religious freedom under Saddam and his Baath party, Christians feel they have something to lose now he has been ousted from power and U.S. forces promise democracy in a largely Muslim country.