Fifteen years after President George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq, the Christian population there has declined by 1.2 million and is now just one persecution away from extinction, according to Chaldean Archbishop Habib Nafali of Basra, Iraq. It is genocidal, he added.
The Chaldean Catholic Church is an Eastern Rite church that is in full communion with the Holy See and Pope Francis. Archbishop Nafali made his remarks in an interview with the Catholic News Agency while he was visiting a Catholic parish in Chester, England, as reported in Crux.
The Chaldean Christians have lived in what is now called Iraq since the time of the apostles and they speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. In 2003, there were about 1.5 million Christians in Iraq. Today there are slightly more than 250,000. "[T]hey now represent about 1 percent of the population, compared to 6 percent a century ago," reported Crux.
According to Archbishop Nafali, Iraq's Christians have experienced "systematic violence" and relentless attacks designed to "destroy their language, to break up their families and push them to leave Iraq."
"If this is not genocide, then what is genocide?" he said. He also explained that since the U.S. invasion in 2003, "a church or a monastery was destroyed every 40 days on average," reported Crux.
"There are still more than maybe a quarter million of us struggling to stay in our homeland," said the archbishop. “Others went to more than 70 countries, which is a crime against humanity when you find Chaldeans and Syrians (Christians) everywhere -- in Sweden, Denmark, in the U.K. and the United States.”
“Another wave of persecution [by Islamists] will be the end of Christianity after 2,000 years,” he said. “There is a global game, and the peaceful people -- the minorities -- in the end will be the ones who are destroyed."
Crux also reported the archbishop as stating that, in addition to the terrorism, "Christians continue to face discrimination in the labor market, with many of them finding it almost impossible to get a job because their faith is an obstacle to employment," and that "such factors prevented the return of refugees."