Just as President Barack Obama was announcing the formal end of the U.S. intervention in Iraq, the war on Christians in the conflictive country appears to continue. According to the Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, Amel Shamon Nona, two Christians were killed on December 14 in Mosul. Said the cleric, "The causes are not known and the attackers have not been identified", according to a report from the FIDES news agency. Archbishop Nona expressed his "closeness and prayer for the family".
As Christmas approaches, Apostolic Nuncio Giorgio Lingua - who serves as Pope Benedict's diplomatic representative in Iraq - said in an interview about the situation for Christians, "I do not yet know the reasons of the crime. We must be careful not to link each episode of violence to religious hatred. Accidents happen for various reasons, in a general climate of violence: in Iraq today I would not say that there is a persecution of Christians as such. There are also signs of hope".
"Of course," explained Monsignor Lingua, "the faithful are afraid: fear is the result of years and sad moments of recent history, in which the community has been hit. And, moreover the presence of Islamic fundamentalist groups should be noted. But Christians are bearing all the dangers. "For example, said Nuncio Lingua, "the incidents in recent weeks in Kurdistan that hit liquor stores, owned by Christians, wanted to hit that type of goods, apart from business owners, whoever they were".
This coming Christmas, concluded Monsignor Lingua, "will be celebrated with the same precautions as in past years: the celebrations will be held during the day, the churches will be protected, and without great outward expressions. I live with concern but with confidence and tranquility".