The continuing presence of men and women religious in Iraq is an important sign of hope amid the suffering of the Christians there. Over a hundred thousand mainly Christian and Yazidi people fled to Erbil in northern Iraq when militants captured the city of Mosul last June, threatening and killing those who would not convert to Islam.
Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP, who visited the area in January, said it is impossible to imagine any dialogue with the Islamic State, but adds that there are many Muslims in Baghdad who long for dialogue and constructive engagement with the West. For many years there has been interaction between Christians and Muslims in Bahgdad,
The Dominicans established the Baghdad Academy of Human Sciences to provide a place for discussion and dialogue. Of the 5.000 students there, around 80% are Muslim. Dominicans strive to keep hope alive in one of the oldest Christian communities in the world.
In the camps around Erbil in the north where the situation is now less dangerous the Dominicans are thinking of sending groups of young people to the camps to meet and talk with the people.
Let us not forget our Christian sisters and brothers in Iraq.