Middle East Christians an ‘example for all’ – prelate

Persecuted Christians around the world should serve as a warning to others to “become better, stronger Christians” a prelate in Iraq has said.

In a message to Christians in the Western world, Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona of the Chaldean Archeparchy of Mosul, said that in the role he has held only since January of this year, he has learned that the greatest defence of beleaguered Christians in Iraq has been “a true knowledge of our own faith” and he called on all Christians to learn from this.

“From the moment when we are waiting for death, under threat from someone who may shoot us at any time, we need to know how to live well,” Archbishop Nona said. “The greatest challenge in facing death because of our faith is to continue to know this faith in such a way as to live it constantly and fully.

“[Iraq’s Christians] should be a warning to you who live in freedom to become better, stronger Christians, and a spur to demonstrating your own faith as you confront the difficulties of your own society.”

The archbishop’s message comes as more incidences of anti-Christian violence have emerged from the Arab world, not least in Syria where Christians are continually targeted by Islamic militants. Just last weekend, reports emerged from the town of Raqaa of the organised burning of Bibles in front of the main church there, while Christians in the ancient Christian town of Mulaala have been given the choice of conversion to Islam or death.

Detailing such everyday experiences for Christians, in addition to kidnappings, during a gathering in London last week, Patriarch Gregorios III, the head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, said that while there are members of the opposition regard President Basahar al Assad, and not Christians, as their enemy, jihadist fighters from within and without Syria are using the conflict to specifically target the Christian community.

"Syria is experiencing a lengthy, bloody way of the cross,” the Patriarch said.