“In light of the difficulties and challenges you face in the midst of the current situation in the Middle East, and in light of the bleak migration that threatens your future and the Christian presence [in the region] as a whole, we stand by you,” the Conference of the Catholic Patriarchs of the East wrote in a statement capping their Nov. 26-30 annual meeting in Baghdad.
The meeting ran under the theme “Youth is a sign of hope in the Middle East countries.”
“As we share the same present pain, we look forward to a bright future with your presence, and we assure you that we will work together to provide the foundations of your steadfastness and steadfastness in your land,” the patriarchs said, as reported by Catholic News Service.
The last official census in Iraq in 2003 put the Christian population there at between 1.2 million and 2.1 million but their numbers have since dwindled to about a quarter of a million, according to the American NGO Open Doors.
Cardinal Louis Sako, Patriarch of Chaldean Catholics, drew attention to the danger posed by groups like Islamic State (IS), which routinely target Iraqi Christians and other religious minorities for kidnappings and killings.