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Monday, 1 November 2010

The suffering Church in Iraq



Aid to the Church in Need carries a report: Three priests killed in attack on Baghdad Church.

Our Lady of Salvation Syrian Catholic Church was attacked by nine armed men from a Sunni group "Islamic State of Iraq" which is close to Al-Qaeda. The men had suicide bombs attached to their belts and took the priests and many people hostage, demanding the release of Al-Qaeda members 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.

A total of 52 people were killed and 67 wounded. The wounded included seven members of the security forces. Father Wasim Sabieh and Father Thaier Saad Abdal were killed during the attack. The third priest, Father Qatin, was wounded and died later in hospital.

I had the privilege of meeting one of the Chaldean Bishops from Iraq during my recent trip to Rome. One of his party, a Chaldean priest working in the US was kind enough to talk to me in English from time to time as I could not participate in the Aramaic conversation round the table.

Our Lord asked Saul "Why do you persecute me?" He is being persecuted today in the suffering Church of Iraq. The Holy Father said today
Last night, in a very serious attack in the Syrian Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad, there were dozens of dead and wounded, including two priests and a group of faithful gathered for Sunday Mass. I pray for the victims of this senseless violence, the more ferocious as it has affected civilians, gathered in the house of God, which is home of love and reconciliation. I also express my affectionate closeness to the Christian community, struck again, and I encourage all pastors and faithful to be strong and firm in hope. Faced with the brutal violence that continues to tear apart the peoples of the Middle East, I wish to renew my appeal for peace: it is God's gift, but it is also the result of the efforts of men of good will, national institutions and international. May all join forces to ensure that all violence ends!
We can include those who died in our prayers during November and I recommend to your generosity Aid to the Church in Need which does such great work for the suffering Church throughout the world whilst fostering peace and reconciliation wherever possible.
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