Iraq

Though Christianity is decidedly a minority faith in Iraq, Mesopotamia has been home to a sizable Christian population for almost two millennia. The Acts of the Apostles lists Mesopotamians among those in the upper room at Pentecost. Tradition has it that in the first and second centuries A.D. the Apostle Thomas and his followers Addai and Mari brought the Christian faith to the lands that were the birthplace of Abraham. 

Today, more than 82% of Iraqi Catholics belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church, about 17% belong to the Syrian Catholic Church, and the remainder are primarily Armenian, Greek and Latin-rite Catholics. Before the second Gulf War, Christians made about 4-5% of the population, with the majority living in Baghdad, Mosul, Basrah and towns and villages of Kurdistan. Since 2003, a significantly high number of these Christians have been displaced, and about half have left the country. Much of what there is to write now about Iraq concerns the political and social unrest, though Pope Francis' celebrated pilgrimage there in 2021 may well be a significant step in changing that narrative. Read more…

In the News

Demographics

  • 1.United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. World Urbanization Prospects, 2014.
  • 2.United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2015 revision.
  • 3.United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, Homicide Statistics 2015.
  • 4.Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index 2016.
  • 5.UNICEF, State of the World's Children, 2016.
  • 6. Statistical Yearbook of the Church, 2017 (Vatican City: Librera Editrice Vaticana, 2019).
  • 7.World Economic Forum, The Global Gender Gap Report, 2016.

Footnotes