Why do American Christians spend so little time thinking about their brothers and sisters in Iraq?
On April 1â€”Palm Sundayâ€”after bullets were fired into the Church of the Holy Spirit in Mosul, Iraq, during mass, the pastor, Father Ragheed Ganni, a Chaldean Catholic, e-mailed friends at the Asia Times:
â€œWe empathize with Christ, who entered Jerusalem in full knowledge that the consequence of His love for mankind was the cross. Thus, while bullets smashed our church windows, we offered our suffering as a sign of love for Christ.â€
The attacks continued. Father Ragheed wrote again: â€œEach day we wait for the decisive attack, but we will not stop celebrating mass; we will do it underground, where we are safer. I am encouraged in this decision by the strength of my parishioners. This is war, real war, but we hope to carry our cross to the very end with the help of Divine Grace.â€
As the bombings in Mosul and Baghdad rose during April and May, and priests were kidnapped, Father Ragheed grew weary. In his last e-mail, May 28, he wrote, â€œWe are on the verge of collapse.â€
A day before, Pentecost Sunday, a bomb exploded in his church, and Father Ragheed seemed dispirited: â€œIn a sectarian and confessional Iraq, will there be any space for Christians? We have no support, no group who fights for our cause; we are abandoned in the midst of the disaster. Iraq has already been divided. It will never be the same. What is the future of our church?â€
Though tempted by despair, Father Ragheed did not give up hope.