Bishops Urge Britain To Help Iraqi Christians

LONDON (CNS) — The Catholic bishops have urged the British government to do all it can to help Iraqi Christians escape persecution.

In a Nov. 19 statement, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales expressed “deep sadness” at recent attacks on the country’s Christian minority by al-Qaida terrorists.

The bishops encouraged the government to take every measure possible to assist the Iraqi authorities in “improving the security for all citizens.”

“The bishops also ask Her Majesty’s government to review its treatment of asylum seekers to ensure that those who have suffered persecution are given the protection that they deserve and to increase assistance to those Iraqis who have fled,” the statement said.

The bishops said they were particularly grieved by the Oct. 31 massacre at Our Lady of Salvation Syrian Catholic Church in Baghdad, where 58 people died as military officials tried to end a terrorist siege.

At least five other Christians have been shot in their homes or been killed by bombs since the attack, with al-Qaida threatening to continue the campaign of violence.

“Our prayers and solidarity are with all those who died or suffered,” the bishops said in their statement, issued at the end of the bishops’ plenary meeting in Leeds.

The Italian and French authorities have flown Christians wounded in the Baghdad siege for treatment in hospitals in Rome and Paris.

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