51 Christians were killed in Baghdad at a single shooting last week, the NT Times reports.
In an emotional service interrupted twice by applause, the Rev. Muklis Shisha told the congregation, “The church is a martyr,” adding: “The cross needs blood, and the blood is happiness because Jesus is our happiness. I congratulate our country and ourselves for our martyrs.”
For many Christians here, the attack underscored a bitter irony of the American-led invasion. It opened the door for warfare on one of the world’s oldest Christian communities.
According to the Society for Threatened Peoples, a nongovernmental organization in Germany, more than three-quarters of Baghdad’s 400,000 Christians have left the capital since the invasion, and many have left the country. With a few exceptions, the country’s Jewish population left years ago.
“I don’t think the American people care about this,” said the Rev. Meyassr al-Qaspotros of the nearby Sacred Church of Jesus, whose cousin was one of the priests killed at Our Lady of Salvation, adding, “The Americans are the cause of all this.”
In his sermon to his own congregation, he said, he planned to stress the existential meaning of human suffering and the need for forgiveness, even in the face of horrific bloodshed. “God allowed man to torture Jesus, he will allow this as well, because he gave freedom to all people,” Father Qaspotros said. “We are willing to live with them as our brothers, and teach our sons to love them, because we are no different from them. We are all human.”