I had the opportunity to meet members of one of the world’s oldest and most heroic churches recently when I spoke to the national youth conference of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East. The meeting was held, of all places, in San Jose, California.
What will happen if Barack Obama makes good on his promise to withdraw American troops from Iraq by 2011? One scenario is that hostilities between Iraq’s Shi‘ites and Sunnis will reignite in a destructive civil war, plunging the country into further chaos.
Nabil Comanny and his family endured the dead bodies left to decompose along the road in their southern Dora neighborhood in Baghdad. They coexisted with criminal gangs that roamed the area. Neither those perils nor utility failures and mountains of trash in the street could drive them away.
Speaking from St. Peter’s Basilica on Easter Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI offered a global survey of natural and human-made disasters, including military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and called on Christians to be “apostles of peace.”
Killing people is a grisly business, even in the case of capital punishment. In Florida last year executioners found Angel Nieves Diaz still moving 24 minutes after the first administration of lethal drugs. They had mistakenly injected the drugs into the soft tissue of his arm instead of into a blood vessel.
One day after the November elections, the General Assembly of the National Council of Churches, holding its annual meeting in Orlando, called for “an immediate phased withdrawal of American and coalition forces from Iraq.” The withdrawal plan is linked to “benchmarks for rebuilding Iraqi society.”
Several of the United States’ allies remain among the world’s most egregious violators of human rights, according to a recent report from a nonpartisan federal panel, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Church leaders in many parts of the world, including General Secretary Samuel Kobia of the World Council of Churches, expressed relief and joy at the freeing of three members of Christian Peacemaker Teams held hostage in Iraq.