Thursday, 4 November 2010

Where God weeps

Last Sunday, the Syrian Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad was attacked, leaving 58 dead and 75 wounded. Fathers Wasim Sabieh and Thaier Saad Abdal were killed during the attack. A third priest, Father Qatin, was wounded and died later in hospital. The event has shocked and horrified the people of Iraq, as well as Christians around the world.
Our Lady of Salvation Syrian Catholic Church was attacked by men with suicide bombs attached to their belts who took the priests and many people hostage, demanding the release of people being held in Iraq and Egypt. They also made the preposterous claim that Muslim girls from Christian backgrounds were being held prisoner in Egyptian Coptic monasteries and demanded their "release." In response, the Iraqi security forces stormed the Church, killing eight of the terrorists. Unfortunately, the ninth activated his suicide bomb.
At the recent Synod in Rome on the Church in the Middle East, the Iraqi bishops told of the terrorism and violence Christians, as well as other minorities, are facing: kidnappings, bombings of churches, schools and other Christian properties, and threats to Christian businesses, as well as to their lives. Christians have been forced to leave their homes in search of safety, with little hope of returning to Iraq in the near future.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols has said "This massacre has taken a terrible toll on a vulnerable and diminishing Christian community that, along with other religious minorities, continues to suffer persecution. My thoughts and prayers are with all those Iraqis who struggle against violence and extremism. The Christians of the Middle East have a special vocation as peace builders, as the recent Synod emphasised. I know that they will continue to be faithful to that mission and that Catholics in this country will continue to support the Iraqi Church". Pope Benedict declared during the week “Our Lord asked Saul ‘Why do you persecute me?’ He is being persecuted today in the suffering Church of Iraq.”
For a good succinct introduction to the position of Christians in Iraq watch this brief video "Where God weeps", from Aid to the Church in Need. The photo above shows the image of Our Lady damaged in the shooting.

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