Text by John Paul Kuriakuz – former executive director of the Chaldean Assyrian Syriac Council of America.
“Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, an estimated 1.4 million Chaldeans and Assyrians inhabited Iraq. In the decade that followed, hundreds of thousands of these Iraqi Christians either sought permanent refuge abroad or were internally displaced. During this turmoil, more than 60 churches were bombed, a Chaldean Catholic Archbishop was kidnapped and murdered, and an Iraqi Christian population of 1.4 million dwindled to fewer than 500,000—a result of the insurgency, subsequent unrest, and radically anti-Christian sentiment that ensued.
Today, targeted by ISIS for their Christian faith, Chaldeans and Assyrians are the victims of an unabashed ethnic-cleansing campaign. After seizing the northern city of Mosul in June, ISIS spray-painted the symbol for “Nazarene” on the homes of Christians. Families had 24 hours to convert to Islam, leave the city or face execution. Christians leaving the city had their possessions confiscated at security checkpoints and were forced to leave with nothing.
Most refugees fled to neighboring villages under the protection of Kurdish security forces, the Peshmerga. In response, ISIS shut off water supplies from Mosul to those villages. ISIS then continued its rapid advance into the villages outside of Mosul, displacing hundreds of thousands from their homes, converting churches to mosques, destroying homes and businesses, and leaving nothing to return to. An entire people have been cleansed from the region, guilty of nothing but their faith and ancient ethnicity.”
As you might be aware, last December the Church of Ireland ordained its first female Bishop, Pat Storey. Pat is the first female Bishop in Britain and Ireland.
I’ve followed Pat for the last few weeks in her preparation for this historic role, culminating with her consecration at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin.
Her nomination comes only weeks after The Church of England’s ruling body has voted in favour of proposals which could allow the ordination of women Bishops in England this year.
This is not a story about a religious ceremony. It is a story about a strong and much loved woman taking on a unique challenge in one of the world’s last male bastions.
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Not a big fan but remember the day that Joseph Ratzinger and his circus visited London. It was the same day that a low-flying pigeon hit me right in the chest. Very weird day.