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Iraq cleric reveals the sufferings of his faithful

An influential Iraqi cleric has lifted the lid on the scale of suffering endured by the country's Christian community petrified by the threat of war.

The cleric, who would not be named for fear of reprisals, sent out a desperate SOS for aid. His plea is the subject of an information briefing released this week by the Australian office of the international charity Aid to the Church in Need.

He said people lack everything right down to the basics - food, clothing and housing included. The clergyman, who has worked for many years in Baghdad, spoke of the crying need to rebuild a Church shaken by generations of conflict and hardship.

"We desperately need your prayers and your help to give our people a chance," he said. "They are very, very anxious."

He spoke of the struggle for life in the face of large-scale poverty and unemployment - all in a nation suffering a seemingly endless cycle of despair.

"Many, many young people just want to leave the country," he said, "but it is very difficult for them to do so."
"We need peace" he stressed. "We don't want to even think about war."

He said the Christian community does not face repression from Suddam Hussein. The Iraqi dictator, he said, had nothing against the country's Christians because they did not represent a threat to his regime.

The clergyman was speaking during a trip to Aid to the Church in Need's headquarters in Germany as part of a bid to rally support for his flock.

Aid to the Church in Need

Aid to the Church in Need (Australia)
Aid to the Church in Need (International)
Catholic agency worried about 'untold suffering' in Iraq war (20/9/02)

3 Oct 2002