Iraqi archbishop: 'I quarrel with God daily' over Islamic State crisis

Archbishop Warda: "Daesh (ISIS) is just 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Irbil. It’s not far away. Anything could happen.”

An Iraqi archbishop has said his faith has been challenged by the ongoing crisis in the Middle East.

Archbishop Bashar Warda of Irbil, Iraq, has admitted that while he would outwardly encourage the scores of Christians arriving in Irbil, in his heart he wrestles with why God has allowed such terrible things to happen.

"I don't understand what he is doing when I look at what has happened in the region," Archbishop Warda said.

"I quarrel with him every day."

According to the Catholic Herald, he said the arguments take place within his intimate relationship with God and, with the help of grace, his relationship withstands even the unimaginable challenges that he has faced over the past year.

"Before going to sleep, I usually hand all my crises, wishes, thoughts and sadness to him, so I can at least have some rest," Archbishop Warda told The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

"The next day, I usually wake up with his providence that I would never dream about."

More than 100,000 Christians and other persecuted minorities have sought refuge in Irbil in northern Iraq as they flee ISIS. With the threat of the extremist group now only 25 miles away, however, many Christians who fled to Irbil are moving on to refugee camps in Jordon, Lebanon and Turkey.

The thousands who remain in Irbil move from temporary shelters on church land to prefabricated houses provided by the church.

Archbishop Warda's archdiocese in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq has, with the help of Catholic relief agencies, provided shelter, food, medical care and educational services to the displaced.

"(God) did it in a way that a state could not really offer to its citizens in such a situation," the archbishop said. "He did it through the church and through the generosity of so many people."

However the international community needs to be galvanised, he went on to say. An important step towards that would be for national leaders to join with Pope Francis in recognising that what is happening in the Middle East is genocide.

"It's genocide. It has all the facts, events, stories and experiences to meet the definition of genocide," Archbishop Warda told The Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.

"Do not wait another 20 years and look back to what happened and say, 'Well, I'm sorry that we did not do something really decisive."