At Christmas, Iraqi churches prepare for violence

This is heartbreaking. While we decorate our churches this time of year with garlands and poinsettias, Iraqi Christians are having to surround theirs with concrete walls:

Concrete walls up to 10 feet high are being built around churches in Baghdad and Mosul to protect Christmas churchgoers from violence.

The barriers are the Iraqi government’s response to reports of increased threats to churches and other Christian communities ahead of Christmas.

Normally celebrations would involve parties in church halls and parks. But after requests from church leaders, activities in both Baghdad and Mosul are being scaled back to reduce the security threat.

“The sadness of the people is everywhere. Uncertainty is everywhere. The question on everyone’s lips is ‘What’s next?’” Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil told the charity Aid to the Church in Need. “There is a kind of desperation. But whatever happens, the people are determined to celebrate the Christmas liturgy by any means possible.”

Fear and uncertainty permeated that first Christmas, too, as Mark Shea pointed out yesterday. May the prayers of the Holy Family help gain them peace and safety this season, and always.

By

Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at SlowMama.com.

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