ASIA/IRAQ - Controversy on sales and demolition of churches. The response of the Chaldean Patriarchate

Tuesday, 8 January 2019 local churches  

Baghdad (Agenzia Fides) - The news on the sale of two churches in Baghdad are fueling controversies involving the local Christian communities, also highlighting contrasts between ecclesial hierarchies and Christians involved in politics. After the protest demonstrations organized against an urban renewal project that would also imply the demolition of the Chaldean church dedicated to the Divine Wisdom, in the district of Adhamiya (see Fides 2/1/2019), a new controversial case concerns the sale and subsequent demolition of a Syro-Catholic church in the central part of Baghdad, near Al Shorjh market. According to news on website, the building of worship is about to be sold and demolished to make room for a commercial area. On the basis of these rumors, Christian MP Immanuel Khoshaba announced that he and his colleagues, holders of the 5 seats reserved for Christians, are determined to ask and start a parliamentary investigation on the sale of churches and Christian properties both in Baghdad and in other areas of the Country.
The Christian politician calls into question the department for religious endowments (Waqf) that deals with properties belonging to religious minority groups, since the sale and purchase of such properties can only take place with the authorization of this governmental institution.
Former Christian MP Joseph Saliwa intervened on the issue using harsh tones, and accusing Waqf and the ecclesiastical hierarchy of being involved in the sale of properties that generated earnings of which the final destination remained unknown. A note issued by the Chaldean Patriarchate responded to the defamatory claims launched by Saliwa: in this message, the mafia behavior accusations also addressed to clergymen involved in helping refugees are also defined as "shameful", announcing legal actions against the former Iraqi parliamentarian. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 8/1/2019)