Msgr. John E. Kozar, having completed nine years of service as head of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, is retiring from his post and reflects on his time as CNEWA head and on what he plans to do next.
Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Christians numbered around 1.5 million, but sectarian attacks on churches in Baghdad and other areas soon followed, and the population either headed north or left the country altogether.
International Catholic relief organizations are beginning to express concern about how the pandemic is affecting the people of Iraq and are assessing how to assist them in their time of need.
With the liberation of parts of Iraq from ISIS in 2017, Iraq’s Christians returned home to two unwelcome developments. Their homes had been burned, looted or destroyed by ISIS and Iran-backed groups who helped defeat ISIS—known as Popular Mobilization Forces—now controlled their towns.
Francis has shown a great interest in Iraq and its people that have suffered so much since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.