Embedded freelance writer and photographer Michael Yon reports from Baghdad that as a Chaldean Catholic church in Baghdad re-opened last week, Muslims filled the front pews as a sign that they wish their Catholic brothers and sisters to come home. They were joined by members of the US 2-12 Infantry and the Iraqi 3rd Division who secured the neighborhood, as well as Bishop Shlemon Warduni, Auxiliary Bishop of the St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Diocese for Chaldeans and Assyrians in Iraq.
Today, Muslims mostly filled the front pews of St John’s. Muslims who want their Christian friends and neighbors to come home. The Christians who might see these photos likely will recognize their friends here. The Muslims in this neighborhood worry that other people will take the homes of their Christian neighbors, and that the Christians will never come back. And so they came to St John’s today in force, and they showed their faces, and they said, “Come back to Iraq. Come home.” They wanted the cameras to catch it. They wanted to spread the word: Come home. Muslims keep telling me to get it on the news. “Tell the Christians to come home to their country Iraq.”
Yon quotes the ranking American soldier, Lt. Colonel Stephen Michael, as saying that when al Quaeda came to the neighborhood to harass and then kill the Christians, the Muslims stood up for them, but eventually many had to flee.
I’d also encourage you to look closely at the photos of the liturgy being celebrated: ad orientem and other clues that tell us that innovations of the past 30 years in the West have not reach the Chaldean Catholics.