Archbishop of Lyon Visits North Iraq; France Offers Asylum, Holds Rallies in Support of Christians in Iraq
Cardinal Philip Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, travelled to north Iraq to meet with Christian refugees, who were expelled from Mosul. The Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, purged Mosul of all its Christians and imposed Sharia law.
Archbishop Barbarin was not alone and travelled with the following people: Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, Bishop Michel Dubost, Bishop of Ãvry, Monsignor Pascal Gollnisch, Director of the Action of East, Archbishop Joseph Thomas, head of the diocese of Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah for the Chaldean Church, and Archbishop Emil Nona, head of Mosul's Chaldean Catholics. They were welcomed with open arms by Syriac Catholic Mar Youhana Boutros Moshi. From AINA:
After the welcoming ceremony the delegation went to the Church of the Immaculate Conception where the townspeople were waiting.
Archbishop Moshi thanked the visiting guests for their solidarity with the Christians in Iraq. He spoke of the recent conditions experienced by the people of the city and praised the people of Baghdede in receiving the refugees from Mosul, sheltering them in their homes and providing them with assistance.
On July 26, the French in Paris and Lyon held rallies to show support of the persecuted Iraqi Christians.
On Tuesday, France offered asylum for any persecuted Christian in Iraq.
“We will aid those who have been displaced following the threats from the Islamic State [formerly known as Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, or ISIS] and who have taken refuge in [the autonomous Iraqi region of] Kurdistan,” said Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. “We are ready, if they so desire, to help facilitate asylum in our territory."
The Islamic State told the Christians to convert to Islam, pay a protection tax, or die. Mosul was home to one of the world's largest Christian communities where they lived peacefully with Muslims for over 2,000 years. The terrorists marked Christian homes with the letter N for Nazarene and proceeded to destroy historic shrines important to Christians and Muslims.