Head Of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholic Church Furious Over US Not Delivering Promised Aid

Joshua Gill | Religion Reporter

The leader of Iraq’s Chaldean church lambasted the U.S. Wednesday over what he says are unfulfilled promises of aid to rebuild ancestral Christian homes.

Cardinal Louis Raphael I Sako, patriarch of the Iraqi Chaldean Church, made the comments at a Vatican briefing on the same day that USAID administrator Mark Green announced an increase of funding to nearly $300 million since 2017 and practical results. Sako dismissed such claims as empty promises, saying that Chaldean Christians had not seen any aid from the U.S. — a claim Green directly contradicted. (RELATED: ISIS Releases Unconfirmed Audio Recording Of Leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi)

“There are promises, but the reality is that there’s been nothing up to now,” Sako said of U.S. aid, according to The Associated Press. “Today, we need to help and encourage Christians to remain in place, help them to find work, repair their homes, give them a hope. Emptying these places is a mortal sin, truly.”

Green asserted that the U.S. has sent aid to Iraq’s Christians through 36 faith-based organizations, 11 local faith organizations, and 27 international organizations, and had specifically partnered with the Knights of Columbus to prioritize the communities most in need of aid. Such funding is intended to help preserve Iraqi Christian heritage, rebuild areas decimated by ISIS, and prevent further attacks on Iraqi Christians. The U.S. State Department also announced that $178 million had been allocated as aid to Iraq’s Christians.

Green gave as an example of concrete results from such funding the repair of homes and wells in the town of Bashiqa in the Nineveh Plains, as well as the financing of medical units and greater security for schools in the region.

The U.S.’s allocation of funds intended for aid, however, is still a far cry from their actual materialization in Iraq — a difference that was highlighted by Iraqi Christian leaders in 2017.

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - NOVEMBER 15: Monsignor Shelman Wardoun, a Chaldean Catholic bishop, is escorted by US soldiers after conducting a Catholic mass November 15, 2007 in Bagdhad, Iraq. The service was held at St. John the Baptist, a church in the neighbohood of Dora that closed earlier this year due to Islamic militant threats. A recent decrease in violence has allowed the Iraqi Christians to re-open the church for the first time in seven months, and the afternoon mass attracted around a hundred worshippers. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

BAGHDAD, IRAQ – NOVEMBER 15: Monsignor Shelman Wardoun, a Chaldean Catholic bishop, is escorted by US soldiers after conducting a Catholic mass November 15, 2007 in Bagdhad, Iraq. The service was held at St. John the Baptist, a church in the neighbohood of Dora that closed earlier this year due to Islamic militant threats. A recent decrease in violence has allowed the Iraqi Christians to re-open the church for the first time in seven months, and the afternoon mass attracted around a hundred worshippers. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Iraqi Catholic leaders said then that, though Congress had approved aid for them, none of it had materialized while the U.S. instead approved and sent $32 million to Rohingya Muslims facing genocide in Burma.

When asked to clarify whether he spoke of aid promised by U.S. Catholic charities or aid from the U.S. government, Sako replied: “I am speaking about the policy of America. Americans, they are very nice and very friendly as individuals, but the policy is wrong.”

Sako also claimed that the U.S. invasion of Iraq had directly contributed to Iraqi Christians’ exodus from their ancestral lands, given that the power vacuum left afterward allowed for the rise of ISIS.

“We Christians of the Middle East, if we leave, we will have lost our identities, our tradition, our patrimony which is very, very rich,” Sako said. “But America, up to now, hasn’t done anything. But we hope.”

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