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Chaldean Archbishop To Speak In San Diego On Rebuilding Iraq

Bashar Warda, Archbishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Erbil, in an undated photo.
Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil
Bashar Warda, Archbishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Erbil, in an undated photo.

Chaldean Archbishop To Speak In San Diego On Rebuilding Iraq
Chaldean Archbishop To Speak On Rebuilding Iraq GUEST: Archbishop Bashar Warda, Chaldean Archdiocese of Erbil

After two years in the hands of ISIS militants a use ground force is advancing on the city of Mosul. since ISIS took over the region, many Christians have been killed and many others forced to escape. One place of refuge has been within the Chaldean Christian archdiocese in Curtis and. The man who is overseeing the help for these refugees is my next guest, the Archbishop. Welcome to the program. Maureen: now that I rocky ground forces are retaking the city what is the mood among the people? Guest: over the last week we have seen prayers, hope, celebrations going on from the refugees who fled from the planes. The mood is joyful and hopeful. We hope that within the coming weeks things will improve on the ground to clear up all of these villages and to make way for families to return. How many Iraqi Christians have left the country since ISIS took over Mosul in 2014? I would say some 25,000 Christians left since then. Maureen: you expect many to return if ISIS is defeated? >> Guest: I would think yes, many people would think seriously about it. They will probably be reluctant of going back to the city of Mosul. Some people will go and check on their properties and all of this, but I would say a good number of them would like to return to these villages. This would also depend on the effort of the Iraqi government to rebuild these villages and to make up for the loss of the people. Maureen: why not Mosul? Guest: we know there are still extremist groups inside of Mosul . People would like to know if ISIS is still there. Probably some of them have only shaved their beard. The mentality would stay the same. There would be no use. Going there, probably people would prefer to stay in another plane. Since 2003 until 2014 Since 2003 until 2000 14/4000 families left the city of Mosul . It was one of the biggest Christian communities , some 6000 families were there. People would be a big reluctant -- Bit reluctant. Maureen: is it the church's view that it is the duty of refugees to return or is it more important to stay safe? Guest: the human dignity for us if a priority, to live a life where you are respected as a priority, yes it is our historical land Mac Christianity was there and we have lots of stories and memories, so we encourage people to stay, but you cannot force anyone to stay in a situation where there is persecution. We encourage people to move to nearer places with security. We, as a church, with the help of our friends and brothers and sisters all over the world, Christians because we don't have help from government or international institutions. We have helped in providing shelter, building schools, offering food, medical care, all to encourage people to stay. Really, we never force anyone to stay. We want a person to live with dignity. This is most important for us. You are here to speak at the University of San Diego tonight about ending the cycle of violence in northern Iraq. Some Americans are beginning to think that could be impossible. Why do you have hope the piece can come to Iraq? Guest: I am a Christian. I have faith and I have hope. Just the events of last week have proven that Eva would not when. The cross was installed again on several shrines. Yes it is a difficult role, it is a very complicated path, it has been centuries, it cannot be sold, but at least you, myself, and others can start these efforts. If we don't start and say we give up, I think nothing would emerge. Out of my faith, being a Christian, I have to do something and you have to do something, even if it is small. Maureen: San Diego has a thriving Chaldean community. There was one controversy recently that many know about, father Gorgas who was excommunicated from the church after he refused to return to a rock, he claimed that will be suicide for him. Do you have any message to him while you are here in San Diego? He was never asked to come back to Iraq, Baghdad, or Mosul. Being a member of a religious order, it was near to a safe city that is quite safe. There was a possibility for doing what the church would want him to do because he has other colleagues that went and he is now with them artistry -- With a monastery participating. Do you have a message for him? I would definitely urge him to be a representative of the church and present the respect needed. At the end of the day we are all for the people. We are not for ourselves. Maureen: I have been speaking with the Archbishop, the Bishop will be speaking tonight at the University of San Diego at 7 PM. Bishop, thank you so much. Guest: God less you. Thank you. >>

A prominent Catholic leader in Iraq will visit San Diego Thursday to discuss the role Christians will play in rebuilding ISIS-controlled areas of Iraq.

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Iraqi soldiers are currently advancing on the city of Mosul, attempting to liberate the city after two years in the hands of ISIS militants. Mosul is adjacent to the Nineveh Plains, the historic home of Iraq's Christian population.

Since ISIS took over the region, many Christians have been killed and many others forced to escape the area. One place of refuge has been within the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region. Archbishop Bashar Warda, who oversees help for those refugees, will deliver a speech Thursday night at the University of San Diego called "Ending the Cycle of Violence in Northern Iraq." Warda has said the church is investing in infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, to help stem the emigration out of Iraq and potentially convince some Christians to come back.

Warda joins KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday to discuss the future of Christians in Iraq and whether he believes San Diego Chaldeans have a duty to return.

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