Published March 31, 2013
BAGHDAD – Iraqi Catholics are flocking to churches around the country to celebrate Easter amid tight security.
At the St. Joseph Chaldean Church in Baghdad, some 200 worshipers sang and prayed, standing and sitting, as they gathered for Easter Sunday mass led by Father Saad Sirop.
There are an estimated 400,000 to 600,000 Christians in Iraq, including many Catholics of the Chaldean church and the smaller Assyrian Catholic church.
Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, Iraqi Christians have suffered repeated attacks by Islamic militants and hundreds of thousands have left the country.
Decades of immigration have reduced the size of Christian communities throughout the Middle East, with most leaving for better opportunities and to join families abroad.