In a pastoral visit to Iraq, the Syriac Catholic patriarch celebrated Mass at the damaged Qaraqosh cathedral and praised Catholics for keeping the faith during more than three years of displacement.
“We will remain faithful to our Christian call, and we will remain lovers of our church despite all the horrors that have afflicted us,” Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan told the faithful in his homily during Palm Sunday Mass on 25th March at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Qaraqosh.
The interior of the cathedral is still blackened by damage from Daesh militants and, the patriarch said, “this magnificent church attests to the criminal acts of those criminals and terrorists.”
Qaraqosh was considered the centre of Christianity in Iraq. But in a single night during the summer of 2014, the town’s entire population of some 50,000 Christians was forcibly displaced by the Islamic State. In all, more than 100,000 Christians were evicted from the Ninevah Plain and Mosul that summer during Daesh’s campaign of terror in Iraq, and those uprooted fled to the Kurdish region in northern Iraq.
“The forced displacement imposed on you is not easy,” the patriarch said in his homily, commending people for enduring in Iraq.
Picture: Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan concelebrates Palm Sunday Mass on 25th March at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Qaraqosh, Iraq. At left the pillars show damage from Daesh militants. (CNS photo/courtesy Syriac Catholic Patriarchate).