"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Beside a row of 13 portraits of bearded archbishops, severe and pious in their dark robes, hangs a large, colourful tapestry of Saddam Hussein wearing military fatigues.
The gallery of past Catholic archbishops of Baghdad, found inside the tranquil, carpeted corridor of the archbishopric office, is a vivid demonstration of the implicit bargain between Iraqi Christians and their president.
In return for allowing worshippers to fill Baghdad's Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Deliverance, Saddam expects the Church to defend his regime robustly.
By extending freedom of worship to Iraq's million Christians, two thirds of whom are Catholics, he tries to guarantee their loyalty.
Judging by one of the pictures displayed on the wall of Matti Shaba Matoka, the current [Syrian] Catholic Archbishop of Baghdad, Saddam has succeeded. It shows a deferential archbishop shaking his leader firmly by the hand.
Archbishop Matoka confirmed that prayers were said for Saddam in all four of Baghdad's Catholic churches on the occasion of his 65th birthday last Sunday. When asked about America's policy towards Iraq, he was quick to repeat the official line.
"Americans are criminals," he said. "Their attitude to us the Iraqi people is not human. Why these sanctions? All the world asks that the sanctions be lifted. The result of this embargo is poverty and disease."
Archbishop Matoka readily defended Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, which triggered the imposition of the American-led embargo.
"Kuwait was stealing our petrol. I think Iraq was right to invade," he said.
See also this December 2002 article from the San Francisco Chronicle: Iraqi Christians pray for peace: Living in privileged positions now, they fear being scapegoats for U.S. war