Rio de Janeiro

“Being a priest in Iraq is tantamount to suicide”

Cover picture – Statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro floodlit in red light to draw attention to the modern Christian martyrs

From Sunday to Monday this week, the world-famous statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro was floodlit in red light – the aim being to draw attention to the plight of the Christian martyrs of today. This was the explanation given by the Brazilian national office of the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

Brazil Rio de Janeiro 25 October 2015 Before Father Douglas (Chaldean Catholic parish priest of Mar Elia Parish in Ankawa in Iraq) a Mass at the Redeemer Chapel. He told to ACN: "You don't know my people, but my people know you because of the help that you give to us: houses, schools, food..." "To be an Iraq Christian is very difficult. To be an Iraq priest is a suicide mission"
(AED/ACN Guilherme Silva)

At the same time, the Brazilian office of ACN invited Father Douglas Bazi of the Chaldean Catholic Church to visit and speak to them. He was able to report first-hand on the situation of Christians in Iraq. “To be a Christian in Iraq is dangerous. To be a priest in Iraq is tantamount to suicide,” he told them. Father Douglas runs a centre for Christian refugees in the city of Erbil in northern Iraq. In summer last year (2014) more than 120,000 Christians were forced to flee the terrorism of the armed militias of the so-called “Islamic state” (ISIS) and seek refuge in the autonomous Kurdish-controlled region of northern Iraq.

Un homme présente le pain préparé dans un camps de réfugiés en Irak. Grâce au soutien des bienfaiteurs de l'AED.
A man holds out  bread prepared in an Iraqi refugee camp, thanks to the support of ACN benefactors.

To mark the occasion in Brazil, Father Douglas celebrated Holy Mass in the chapel that forms part of the complex of the Christ the Redeemer statue. He expressly thanked ACN for its support of his work. “You do not know my people,” he said, “but my people know you, because of the help you are giving us for our housing, schooling and food.”


To know more,visit our Brazilian colleagues’  ACN website  (in Portuguese).

For more information on Iraq – please see our latest article here.



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