Christians, Muslims join for Christmas Mass in liberated Mosul

Chaldean Christians in Mosul, Iraq, attended Christmas Mass at St. Paul Cathedral Dec. 24. Christians and Muslims attended the Mass in a show of unity just months after the city was liberated from the Islamic State militants.

MOSUL, Iraq — Cries of joy and seasonal hymns once again filled St. Paul Cathedral in Mosul as Christmas Mass was celebrated there for the first time in three and a half years, following the northern Iraqi city's liberation from Islamic State militants.

The Iraqi national anthem opened the Mass as women wailed with emotion. Armored police outside protected the worshippers.

Led by Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad, Christians and Muslims attended the Christmas Mass Dec. 24 in a display of unity.

Christians need time to rebuild trust before return to Mosul region

People from Mosul, Iraq, raised a wooden cross near St. Georges Monastery April 24. Some Iraqi Christians who are making their slow return to ancestral lands say it will take time to rebuild their lives and trust of those who betrayed them.

AMMAN, Jordan — As some Iraqi Christians make a slow return to the region around Mosul following the defeat of the Islamic State group, many say it will take time to rebuild their lives and even longer to rebuild their trust of those who betrayed them.

"The war isn't finished yet and neither is the Islamic State. There is no stability and there is still fighting in Mosul," said Patriarch Louis Sako, head of Iraq's Chaldean Catholic Church, who visited Mosul July 20, touring churches left badly damaged during the city's three-year occupation by the extremists.

Winter challenges Iraqi Christians who fled militants

Blankets lined a fence where Iraqi Christians are sheltered by Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena outside a youth sport center in Ainkawa, Iraq. An early wintery deluge drove out families, adding to the woes for those who recently ran for their lives from the brutal Islamic State militant takeover of Iraq’s historic Christian heartland.

AINKAWA, Iraq -- Sister Habiba's kindly face is etched with sadness as she surveyed the muddy field where dozens of tents sheltering displaced Iraqi Christians once stood.

Cold, punishing rains and blustery wind swept through the encampment Oct. 20, earlier than expected for winter, crashing down the tents in the dead of night. Shoes, slippers and toys were strewn about, stuck in the muddy mess, signaling the mad dash for safety.

U.S. Chaldeans decry 'genocide' of Iraqi Christians, rally for aid

DETROIT -- Shouting slogans such as "Obama, Obama, where are you? Iraqi Christians need you!" and "Stop the violence in Iraq!" about 150 protesters marched through the streets of downtown Detroit Aug. 1 to call awareness to the violent persecution of Christians in their native land.

Later in the day, nearly 1,000 more gathered at Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church in Southfield for a prayer vigil led by Chaldean Bishop Francis Kalabat, who shared a similar message.

Militants in Iraq drive all Christians out of Mosul

An Iraqi Christian family fleeing the violence in Mosul slept inside Sacred Heart of Jesus Chaldean Church in Telkaif, Iraq, July 20. Pope Francis called for prayers, dialogue, and peace, as the last Iraqi Christians flee Mosul.

VATICAN CITY -- As the last Iraqi Christians in Mosul fled the city, Pope Francis urgently called for prayers, dialogue and peace.

"Violence isn't overcome with violence. Violence is conquered with peace," the pope said before leading thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square in a moment of silent prayer July 20.

"Our brothers and sisters are persecuted, they are chased away," he said, as he assured Christians in all of Iraq and the Middle East of his "constant prayers."

Christians from Mosul say they have been targeted for months

Iraqi refugees walked in a camp near the northern city of Irbil June 12. Hundreds of thousands of people who have fled their homes in Mosul are left without access to aid, officials said. Christians from the city say they were targeted long before Iraqi security forces abandoned the major political and economic hub.

AMMAN, Jordan --The fall of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, to Islamist militants in early June sent half a million residents scurrying for safety, but Christians from the city say they were targeted long before Iraqi security forces abandoned the major political and economic hub.

"We Christians have been objects of kidnapping, torture and killing by extremists hoping to extort money from us or to force us to convert to Islam -- for several months," said a young Iraqi Catholic man from Mosul, who identified himself simply as "Danny."

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