By Maria Lozano

Archbishop Amel Nona was the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul when ISIS invaded the city in 2014 forcing the Christian communities to flee. The archbishop found shelter together with his flock in Telkef and in other Christian villages on the Nineveh Plains. This refuge was short-lived: during the night of August 6th, with only 30 minutes warning, Peshmerga troops retreated from the path of the ISIS advance, leaving more than 120,000 Christians to their fate. The night of the exodus, their flight to Erbil and eventually on to other countries around the world, became the "Golgotha" of the 21st century for tens of thousands of Christians. 

By Eva-Maria Kolmann

During a visit to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Archbishop Moses M Costa of Chittagong lamented the fact that the rights of the ethnic and religious minorities are not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution of Bangladesh. “The government does not acknowledge their rightful existence and ignores them, so that they have scarcely any possibility of development”, he told ACN. “Moreover they are often discriminated against in the workplace, even in some schools, since they do not speak the national language. When the ethnic minorities suffer, the Church also suffers, for 60% of our Catholic faithful belong to this group.” The Catholic Church is the only institution standing up for the rights and dignity of these peoples and striving to respect and promote their culture.   

By Olivier Labesse

Now that Mosul has been liberated, will the Christians be able to return to their homes soon? According to Msgr. Petros Mouche, Syriac Catholic archbishop of the second largest city in Iraq, it is too early for this, but he emphasised the importance of learning from the events of the past and of restoring peace. Below is the short interview Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) conducted with Archbishop Mouche   

Aid to the Church in Need has agreed to support the rebuilding of the Greek Orthodox cemetery and the transfer of the remains of Orthodox and Catholic Christians of various rites who died in Aleppo between April 2013 and December 2016 to the Christian cemetery of Jabal Al-Saydé. 

By Oliver Maksan

Dust and mud brick houses everywhere – as far as the eye can see. The houses indistinguishable in colour from the ground on which they stand. Trees are few and far between. The road leading northwards from the Sudanese capital Khartoum shimmers in the burning heat. The temperature is 45°C according to the thermometer. At a certain point the car turns off into an unmade road with deep potholes, into a residential suburb. “Welcome to the Saint Kizito School of Daressalaam”, says our host, Father Daniele, as we stand in the courtyard of the school, which is named after the youngest of the Ugandan martyrs. This Italian priest is a member of the clergy of the Catholic archdiocese of Khartoum. His fluent Arabic enables him to communicate with the people of his parish in their own language. “I belong to the Neo-Catechumenal Way and I studied at our seminary in Beirut. I‘ve been living in Sudan now for over 10 years.” A move he has never regretted, ever, he tells us. “But it is an extremely difficult pastoral field we work in here as priests”, he adds. This has to do more than anything with the life circumstances of his parishioners. “They are totally uprooted people. The parishioners we are dealing with here are for the most part former country dwellers from the Nuba mountains in the south of Sudan. Their lives there were marked by the customs and traditions of their villages. But here, far from their homeland, they are completely lost.” Many of them arrived many years ago already in the Khartoum area, in search of work or in order to escape the fighting in their homeland. But most of them can only survive as day labourers, and this eats away at the men‘s sense of self-worth. “Many of them simply drift around idly when they don‘t have any work”, says Father Daniele. And many have no work at all. “In their traditional view of themselves, they are herders and warriors. But since there is no fighting no herding to be done here, all the work falls on the shoulders of the womenfolk.” 

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