Iraqi Christians look ahead to uncertain future
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 US 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 US forces promise democracy in a largely Muslim country.
"The situation is not stable," said Ghada Abbo, a doctor. "We do not have any idea what will happen to us in the future," she added, looking up as US B-52 bombers circled high in the sky.
Iraqi headquarters and military positions in and around the oil-rich city of 700,000 people were pounded from the air during the last few weeks, and government forces eventually collapsed.
Hundreds of Kurdish "peshmerga" fighters poured into the city amid scenes of jubilation, but the atmosphere quickly soured when looting and lawlessness began, some of it blamed on the Kurds themselves.
"This is the second time the Kurds have done this," said S. G. Alhurmazi, a retired oil worker, sharing the view of many in Kirkuk. "The last time was in 1991," he added, referring to a Kurdish uprising after the last Gulf War that was brutally repressed.
Many Iraqi families 'destitute' - Caritas Australia (Catholic Weekly)
Paris Archbishop Shocked By Bush's Prayers For Victory (islamonline.net)
How churches played into Iraq's hands (Gerard Henderson, Sydney Morning Herald)
Pope gets credit for averting anti-Christian backlash (National Catholic Reporter)
Mythical Garden of Eden now a wasteland (SIFY)
[Oregon USA] Catholic leader wants Bush to be tried for war crimes (worldnetdaily.com)
15 Apr 2003