Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Friday 24 September |
The Blessed Virgin Mary—Our Lady of Walsingham
home iconNews
line break icon

Chaldean patriarch trying to support the faith of Iraq’s Catholics during pandemic

البطريركية الكلدانية / facebook

John Burger - published on 03/18/20 - updated on 03/18/20

A country already struggling in its post-war years now taking extreme measures to fight coronavirus spread.

While the United States and Western Europe are struggling to limit the spread of COVID-19, some countries are facing the outbreak from a more vulnerable position. Iraq, for example, is still rebuilding after wars of recent decades, including the battle against the Islamic State group.

Christians in Iraq, already struggling to rebuild and maintain a footing in the Middle Eastern country, are seeking ways to maintain their bonds and their religion while protecting themselves and their families from the pandemic.

“We have had wars” and sectarian confessional violence, but “we have never seen such a severe and heavy curfew,” said Baghdad Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Audish Warduni, in reference to a curfew in the capital imposed by the central government from March 17 to 24.

According to the World Health Organization, as of Monday, Iraq had 124 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and nine deaths. All flights to and from Baghdad international airport have been suspended, and the country is preparing to declare a state of emergency for 30 days. Several governorates of the country have ordered the closure of borders, including Najaf, Basra, Kirkuk, Nineveh and Kerbala, as well as Erbil and Suleimanya. Schools and universities have been closed since last week; travel to countries affected by the epidemic is prohibited.

There is an atmosphere of anguish; people are afraid, and for this reason it is essential to try to instill courage, especially now that they see the churches and mosques and schools closed,” Bishop Warduni said, according to Asia News. “Many people are asking questions; they understand that this is serious and it is compounded by a general feeling of fatigue, as little by little people isolate themselves and their families to pray.”

He lamented that Iraq had not closed its border with Iran, the epicenter of the outbreak in the Middle East, sooner.

Chaldean Patriarch Mar Louis Raphael Sako is celebrating liturgy daily, which the patriarchate is streaming live on Facebook. The patriarch asked Catholics to “join in prayer” through which “we hope to disperse this cloud” that obscures the world. Sako also invited the faithful to follow the Way of the Cross on Friday from home.

Warduni noted that scientists are working on developing a vaccine for the virus, but in the interim, he said, “the strongest medicine is prayer, entrusting oneself to the Lord and His hands.”

Tags:
Christians in the Middle EastCoronavirusIraq
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
SLEEPING
Cecilia Pigg
7 Ways the saints can help you sleep better at night
2
OUR LADY
Philip Kosloski
An alternative Hail Mary to Our Lady of Sorrows
3
Our Lady of La Salette
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady of La Salette can give us hope in darkness
4
PRAY
Philip Kosloski
Pray this Psalm when you successfully recover from an illness
5
Tolkien
Philip Kosloski
Why J.R.R. Tolkien loved to attend daily Mass
6
ANMOL RODRIGUEZ
Domitille Farret d'Astiès
Attacked with acid as a baby, Anmol Rodriguez overcomes and inspi...
7
CHILDREN, PRAY, ROSARY
Aid to the Church in Need
What happens when a million children pray the Rosary?
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.