On December 25th we had a beautiful Christmas with our faithful. As on every year, we had two Masses in the morning, the second of which presided by the apostolic nuncio, His Excellency Giorgio Lingua Nuncio. There were many people at Mass and there was great joy.
In the afternoon we got a call from a priest from Argentina who was worried about us because he had read that in another neighborhood in Baghdad, a church had been attacked on the same day in the morning.
It was strange, because if something like that had happened, we would have heard about it. But given the “habituation” of the people of Baghdad to the attacks, we did not think it to be impossible.
Browsing through the Arabic news sites, we read that at the end of the Mass in the Church of St. John the Baptist, a car bomb had exploded killing 45 Christians.
But after a while, we saw a statement from the Chaldean Patriarchate affirming that the news was false, that there had been an explosion near the church, but it was an attack on the police headquarters in the neighborhood, and that it had been latter than the Mass in the church and that there were no Christian victims.
Other sources confirmed that that was what had happened, only that it was not one car bomb, but three.
But many international media, including Catholic ones, continued to report for at least two days about the attack in the church.
This kind of misunderstanding is common in these parts. The information comes and goes, and is often unreliable.
Nevertheless, there came to us the thought that even on Christmas Day, Christians are not free from such events in this country. There is not a single day in the year when we can be absolutely certain of our safety. Although it may seem to be a small detail, it is still an example of the constant strain on the Iraqis and particularly on Iraqi Christians who, being a minority, face any damage proportionally larger.
Years pass by and we do not see any improvement in the basic right to security that is constantly being violated.
But also we cannot help but thinking that three car bombs on Christmas Day in a neighborhood with a significant Christian presence is no accident. They seek to spread terror, which is more effectively achieved by carrying out attacks on days that are special.
We therefore request that you please intensify your prayers asking God for peace for this people.
Fr. Luis Montes, IVE