Solidarity with Iraq

Photo: Josh Canning

Solidarity with Iraq


I attended a protest yesterday in Toronto. We assembled and marched and prayed for a solution to the evil acts taking place in Iraq right now.

The Islamic State (formerly ISIS) has overrun cities in norther Iraq. As they attempt to enforce an Islamic caliphate they are forcing Christians and other religious minorities to convert, pay the jizya (an tax laid on non-Muslims) or be killed. In the path of the demonically violent members of the Islamic State, citizens flee, risking death by the elements rather than the sword (no need to recount the atrocities in depth here, you’ve already heard too many stories of rapes, crucifixions, beheadings of children, and more). 

At the protest were Christian leaders of Canada, primarily Orthodox and Catholic of the Roman and Eastern rites. Cardinal Collins offered words of solidarity with the victims and offered the continued charitable outreach to Iraqi refugees (the Archdiocese of Toronto is Canada’s largest private sponsor of refugees from the Middle East, having welcomed 820 people in the past 3 years).

He also called upon the government of Canada to remove all bureaucratic barriers to welcoming refugees, and drew cheers when calling upon Canadian Muslim leaders denounce the actions of Islamic State.

Most encouragingly he was followed by a Muslim leader who professed solidarity with our cause. A fellow protestor translated for me his words as he declared that an Iraq with no Christians is not Iraq. He further stated that those who are perpetrating the violence “will not see Muhammad,” and ended by promising that there will be prayer in mosques for an awakening of conscience in the members of Islamic State.      

There were cheers of appreciation as a message from the government was read aloud, promising $5 million to assist directly in the crisis of displaced Iraqis in the north-east of the country.

We ended in praying The Lord’s Prayer in 3 different languages and receiving an apostolic blessing from the Cardinal.

A friend lamented that there were not many non-Arabs visible at the protest, and I believe he was right. But I know that Catholics and other Christians weep with our persecuted brothers and sisters in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.

130,000 Christians who have fled their villages are spending their 5th night out in the open without tents or mats, and food rations are scarce. If you have not done these three things yet, I beg you to do so.

1. Write your MP

  • Sometimes we plan to do this and procrastinate. Please do it now. It does influence policy, and I am posting a letter below that you can cut and paste if you like.

2. Give

  • CNEWA launched an emergency appeal to help fleeing families in Iraq. How much should you give? $100 is a good bold number to start with. Maybe you can’t give that much, maybe you can give more. Just make it sting a little. It helps! (Canadians give here or here; Americans can give here)

3. Pray

  • Let us as a people of God beg him daily for solutions to this crisis. Pray personally. Get together and pray in groups. Have Masses said for this intention. And fast from something.


When part of the body hurts the whole body feels it. Let’s ache with and for our suffering family, and be generous.


Letter to an MP

Hon. MP _______,

As a member of your riding I am writing to ask you to advocate for a greater government response to the tragic events happening right now in Iraq. There is a genocide taking place against Iraq's Christian community. Along with the archbishop of Toronto, Thomas Cardinal Collins, I ask that all bureaucratic barriers be removed to accept Iraqi refugees who are being displaced, hunted down and murdered by the Islamic State (formerly ISIS).

The number of victims is vast and rapidly growing. Women, children and the elderly are dying of exposure. Please do what you can to ensure our government will do its part to urgently provide the humanitarian support needed.

Thank you,

(Your name)


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