New center of studies rises in midst of displacement of Christians fleeing ISIS
Fides reported Thursday that the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil has set Tuesday, December 8 as the date for the opening of a new Catholic University in Northern Iraq.
An invitation to the inauguration ceremony called Catholic University, Erbil Campus, or CUE, “a path of education which will lead many to a future of prosperity and peace.”
Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, is the home of 125,000 to 150,000 internally displaced persons who fled Mosul and villages in Northern Iraq’s Nineveh Plain in the summer of 2014 as the Islamic State group overran the area. Most of the IDPs are Christians.
The university’s foundation stone was laid at Ankawa, a suburb of Erbil, on Oct. 20, 2012, before the rise of ISIS. The institution occupies 30,000 square meters of ground made available by the Chaldean Church.
Fides provided background:
Following a Synod for the Middle East held in Rome in 2010 — Fides was told at the time by the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar Warda, a great patron of the initiative — first contact was made with the Saint-Esprit University in Kaslik, renowned college founded in Lebanon by the Lebanese Maronite Order, to ask for help and guidance for the realisation of the project. The goal was to establish a private centre of university teaching open to all, in keeping with the demands of the market and closely associated with scientific research. From the beginning Archbishop Warda hoped to complete the work before the end of 2015, also to enable young Iraqi Christians to “continue to bear witness to the gift of the faith in their country.” The dramatic convulsions which unsettled northern Iraq turning precisely Ankawa into a haven of refuge for thousands of Christians forced by the advance of Islamic State Jihad warriors to leave the Plain of Nineveh, did not stop the project. An eloquent sign that Iraqi Christians, despite everything, still believe in the possibility of a future of peace and the ability to profess faith in Christ living in harmony with fellow countrymen of Muslim and other religious beliefs.