By Joyce Coronel, The Catholic Sun
As the heartrending images of Christians and Yezidis fleeing for their lives continue to pour in from Iraq, the Vatican called on Muslim leaders to condemn the “barbarity” and “unspeakable criminal acts” of Islamic State militants in Iraq.
From 7,000 miles away, Fr. Felix Shabi, a native of Iraq and corbishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church of Arizona, said the demise of Christianity in his homeland seemed imminent.
“We’ve lived through difficulties before, but not to this extreme,” Fr. Shabi said. “All of us — we have cousins, friends, brothers there. We are in agony for them. They are starving, without food or water.”
Fr. Shabi said the refusal of Iraq’s Christians to abandon their faith in the face of annihilation is something that ought to open the eyes of those in the West. Islamic State militants, who gained control of Mosul in early June, have captured several Christian villages and cities in the surrounding area. The inhabitants were given a choice: convert, pay an exorbitant “infidel tax,” or die by the sword. Many were killed — even children — but some 100,000 fled, refusing to renounce Christianity.
“They remained faithful,” Fr. Shabi said. “They left their homes, their gold, their businesses, but not their faith.”