The head of the Catholic Church in Britain said after a weekend visit to the Iraqi city of Erbil that “the presence of the Christian community is essential” for the rebuilding of Iraq’s fractured society, once the Islamic State is overthrown there. But he admitted, “There is no way the Islamic State is going to walk away without being forced to do so.”

Interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Cardinal Vincent Nichols said, “The fabric of this society and its long-term cohesion really depends on the presence of Christians. . .The specific contribution of Christians is always an emphasis and a willingness to work for peace and reconciliation.”

Cardinal Nichols confirmed during his Erbil visit that the displaced Bishop of Mosul, Emil Shimoun Nona, continues to receive photographs from Islamic State fighters documenting the ongoing desecration and vandalism of the historic Mosul cathedral, which they have turned into a mosque after taking over the city in June 2014.