Iraqis hope the violent attacks by the U.S. and Iran will ease and that moves to decrease tensions will take hold, said an Iraqi archbishop.
Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Yousif Thomas Mirkis of Kirkuk, Iraq, repeated the overarching concern of the majority of Iraqis, regardless of their religious affiliation: that foreign troops stop using their shattered homeland as a battlefield to settle scores.
On Jan. 8, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases in what it said was retaliation for Washington’s targeted killing of Iran’s top militia commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad Jan. 3. The missiles hit the al-Asad airbase, which houses U.S. troops, and American and coalition forces in the northern Iraqi town of Irbil, in areas not heavily populated.
“We haven’t heard anything about lives lost. Maybe it can stop here — the revenge,” Archbishop Mirkis told Catholic News Service by phone Jan. 8. “The revenge was in all the speech of yesterday. … Now, that it is done, let us go to negotiate.”
China will enforce new restrictions on religious groups, organizations, meetings, and other related events starting on Feb 1.
The country’s state-controlled media announced the new policy on Dec. 30, after Chinese authorities moved to further suppress Catholics in the Archdiocese of Fuzhou who are refusing to join the state-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.
According to UCA News, the new “Administrative Measures for Religious Groups,” which consists of six sections and 41 articles, will control every aspect of religious activity within China, and will mandate that all religions and believers in China comply with regulations issued by the Chinese Communist Party, which must be acknowledged as the higher authority.
Earlier this week, the president of the Australian Bishops Conference, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, issued a statement about the “unprecedented” crisis facing the country. Like Pope Francis, he too called for prayer, noting that “A genuine Catholic response to a crisis of this magnitude must draw strength from prayer which inspires concrete and compassionate action”.
Archbishop Coleridge announced that the Bishops Conference is preparing a national response to the fires, including assistance to those affected by the fires, collaboration with aid agencies, and a special collection to be taken up this weekend.
“With broad and deep roots across the nation”, the Archbishop said, “the Church stands ready to walk alongside people throughout their journey of recovery”.