A Christian priest faces grim New Year in Iraq

Father Nadheer Dako, left, leads mourners as they carry in the coffin of Fawzi Rahim, 76, for funeral Mass at St. George Chaldean Church in Baghdad. (Khalid Mohammed, Associated Press / December 31, 2010)

Father Nadheer Dako’s flock in Baghdad is shrinking, some having long fled the turmoil and others falling victim to a recent rise in anti-Christian violence. On the last day of 2010 he buries an elderly couple targeted in a bombing.

Dako, 38, is used to living with death. He had become accustomed to danger even before an Oct. 31 siege by Islamic militants at another Baghdad church that left 58 people dead and ushered in a new campaign of attacks against Iraq’s Christian minority.”

His response? Angry threats of revenge and violence? Cries for rioting in the street?

No. His response was:

“God is the light and peace,” he said. “Protect the dignity of all, Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, Shabak, Sudanis, Pakistanis.”

This is not a pitch for any particular religion – or any religion for that matter. This is simply to point out these are the kind of people the world needs, whatever they might believe or not believe about God: people who are willing and able to get along with others, even if they disagree sharply.

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