Baghdad Catholics Stressed, Says Archbishop

Archbishop Jean Sleiman

Archbishop Jean Sleiman

The Archbishop of Baghdad is reporting that members of his congregation are “stressed” over the rapid approach of brutal Islamic terrorists known as ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), saying Mass attendance is down and his own decision to flee is being left up “to my angels.”

The UK’s Catholic Herald is reporting on the situation inside Baghdad where Archbishop Jean Sleiman says there is a “great deal of confusion” among Catholics who are struggling to decide what to do about the rapidly deteriorating political situation in the country.

Not surprising, numbers were down at Mass this past Sunday, which the Archbishop celebrates in St. Joseph’s Cathedral.

“People I met after Mass were stressed by the situation,” he said.

The problem for many are the dwindling escape routes. Roads to the north of the city are closed and those to the south are full of checkpoints and many other obstacles. This leaves air flight as the only way out of the city, but this is limited to just seven flights per day.  

“What all this means is that you can only leave Baghdad if you have got money to pay for a flight. In any case, flights are booked until the end of the month,” the Archbishop said.

When asked about his own plans to leave the city, he said: “I don’t know if I should stay or go. I leave this problem to my angels.”

The Archbishop is calling upon the leaders of Iraq to come up with a solution to the problem rather than involve the international community.

“Isis needs to be stopped … and it needs the Iraqi leaders to work together to stop it. That is more important than getting the international community involved,” he said. “I hope Iraqi leaders will find a consensus about how to tackle this situation or there will be a tragic outcome.”

He admits that he has no idea what will happen next in his country.  “Of course the military will resist Isis but who knows if it will be strong enough. It is a possibility that the terrorists will succeed but we don’t know.”

In the meantime, he is asked everyone to “pray for peace and solidarity and for a solution to the crisis.”

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