(Photo: REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani)
Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako I denounced a recent series of car bombings and shootings in Iraq that left scores dead and many more injured.
The "morale of Christians in the area is down" Sako said, adding that "it seems a step aimed at the division of Iraq."
In recent months, violent attacks have increased across Iraqi cities with the worst occurring on May 20 in Baghdad. Nine explosions were detonated in mainly Shiite areas, leaving at least eight dead in one attack.
The patriarch added, in an interview to Catholic News Services (CNS), that the attacks, which has left at least 54 people dead total, is violence between minority Sunni and majority Shiite Muslims.
Christians are not being directly targeted, but "they are afraid and their exodus continues nevertheless," he said.
"People across the country feel that the situation is deteriorating and they are afraid especially when it takes a sectarian line," the patriarch added to CNS. "People are worried about the future," he said.
Patriarch Sako I went on to warn against the replacement of regimes with wars, or only to replace the totalitarian regime with "one that is fundamentalist [Islam]."
"Instilling democracy and a culture of freedom requires education and a sound strategy for the long term … I think moderate Muslims should be aware and assure Christians that they, indeed, will be respected as equal citizens," the patriarch concluded.