On Sunday and Monday of last week, the world-famous statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro was floodlit in red light to draw attention to the plight of the Christian martyrs of today.
The event was organised by the Brazilian national office of the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). At the same time, the Brazilian office of ACN invited Father Douglas Bazi of the Chaldean Catholic Church to visit and speak to them.
He was able to report first-hand on the situation of Christians in Iraq. “ To be a Christian in Iraq is dangerous. To be a priest in Iraq is tantamount to suicide”, he told them. Father Douglas runs a centre for Christian refugees in the city of Erbil in northern Iraq.
In summer last year (2014) more than 120,000 Christians were forced to flee the terrorism of the armed militias of the so-called “Islamic State” and seek refuge in the autonomous Kurdish-controlled region of northern Iraq.
To mark the occasion in Brazil, Father Douglas celebrated Holy Mass in the chapel that forms part of the complex of the Christ the Redeemer statue.
He expressly thanked ACN for its support of his work. “You do not know my people” , he said, “but my people know you, because of the help you are giving us for our housing, schooling and food.”
By Oliver Maksan/Rodrigo Arantes