ASIA/IRAQ - The Chaldean Church of St. Joseph in Mosul transformed into a mosque

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Mosul (Agenzia Fides) - After the one dedicated to St. Ephrem, also the Chaldean Church of Mosul dedicated to St. Joseph has been transformed into a mosque wanted by the leader of the Islamic State (Daesh), the jihadi entity that since June 2014, has established itself in the second Iraqi city, turning it into the capital of the self-declared Islamic Caliphate. The news was spread by sources in Mosul in contact with the website.
Some pictures of the place of worship show that the dome has been painted black, and the church - situated in the district of Maidan, in the historic city - has been stripped of all crosses and Christian symbols and images. The mosque seems to have been named after Abu Abdulrahman al-Bilawi, an Iraqi commander of Daesh killed by Iraqi police.
That of St. Joseph was a historic church in Mosul, but in recent years, due to the decrease of priests and faithful recorded after the US-led military intervention, Mass is celebrated only once a month and pilgrimages take place during the festivities connected to the figure of Jesus’ putative father, in particular on the occasion of May 1st, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker.
After the conquest of Mosul by jihadists, all the Christians in the city were forced to flee and many of them live as refugees in Ankawa, a suburb in Erbil. Mgr. Amel Shamon Nona, already Chaldean Archbishop of the metropolis in Iraq, was transferred to lead the Chaldean eparchy in Australia, and for the appointment of his successor in Mosul we have to wait and see if the many times announced military campaign to liberate the city by jihadists will really start.
"The most insistent voice - refers to Fides Paul Mekko, Chaldean priest from Mosul, now a refugee in Ankawa - was that the military operations on a large scale would begin after the end of Ramadan. In fact, it seems these days that an offensive to regain ground in the province of al-Anbar and release Ramadi has begun".
Meanwhile, the Chaldean Patriarchate, according to the priests in Mosul, has decided to sell some vehicles owned by the archdiocese lying unused in garages, to avoid that with time they lose value. The proceeds from the sale - amounting to almost 60 thousand dollars - was paid into the bank account of the archdiocese, in the hope of using it when better moments arrive, and the parishes of Mosul will "start afresh". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 14/07/2015)