At his meeting with Pope Benedict yesterday, President Bush was reminded of something that probably had not occurred to him when he decided to overthrow Saddam Hussein: the persecution and flight of Chaldean Catholics and other Iraqi Christians. In God's providence, I'm sure it's not coincidental that the Synod of the Chaldean Church has been taking place this week, on the heels of the murder of a priest and three subdeacons in Mosul. The decimation of the one of the world's most ancient continuous Christian communities proceeds apace.
Appeals to save it are echoed throughout many quarters of the Church that otherwise are often at odds. One can only concur, but it isn't clear how much can be done to preserve that community in particular if the country in general is not governed well. Iraq has known little more than war, oppression, and sectarian hatred for decades. Saddam persecuted Kurds and Shiites while invading Iran and Kuwait; one of his few virtues was that he generally left the Christians alone. With him gone, Sunni and Shiite Muslims now kill each other even as they both persecute non-Muslims, especially the Christians. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda does it best to keep the pot boiling in Baghdad and the adjoining provinces, hoping to secure Iraq as a base for an even more ruthless brand of jihad against us, Israel, and anybody else who opposes them—including, of course, Iraqi Christians.
Beyond a few dollars and prayers, I have no answers. Perhaps the great suffering of Iraq's Christians can be oblative for Iraq and beyond. In the meantime, we too must sacrifice so that sectarianism and jihad do not remain the order of the day.