Bishop Richard G. Lennon
friday august 15 2014
Deteriorating situation in the Middle East calls for awareness and prayer
Over the past number of weeks it seems that violence between nations, among
nations and within countries has been escalating at a very rapid and terrifying
rate, which is causing unbelievable horror for those caught up in the situations
and increasing anxiety and grave concern for huge numbers of people who wonder
when it will all end.
Some people are centered on one particular situation, perhaps because they are from that place, or because one has studied that situation and as a result the person feels they have some understanding which for them informs their interest.
For many people, their interest is more global, possibly because they know more about all of the
“hot spots,” or maybe they are truly overwhelmed by the whole story and the incredible tragedy of it all. Whatever, it is true that many, many people are caught up with it all.
While I must say I tend to look at the big picture it is probably because it is frightening to realize there is so much evil around us, and so many innocent lives are ended because of man’s inhumanity to mankind.
However, as I prepared to write this article, my thoughts turned to a relatively small group of Christians in the city of Mosul in Iraq. A few weeks ago, the Islamist terrorists drove the Christians from their midst. The message was read from the mosques on the 18th of July and was broadcast on loud speakers so everyone would know what was to happen.
The message ordered Christians to convert to Islam, to submit to the rule of the terrorists and pay a religious tax, or die. It was stated “If they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.” The terrorists meant business. Homes of Christians were marked by the letter “N” for Nasara which means Christian or Nazarene. This marked the homes to be burnt and churches to be converted to mosques. With their clothes on their backs they fled. How much have we heard about these people who are Catholic brothers and sisters of ours?
A person whom I have had the pleasure to meet did make this known to his government. The gentleman’s name is Francis Campbell, a former ambassador of the United Kingdom to the Holy See. He wrote to David Cameron the present prime minster of the United Kingdom stating “A culture and civilization is being destroyed and our political leaders are silent.” He asked in the letter “Why is the UK silent on the ethnic cleansing of Christians from Mosul?” This statement and question could, or better should, be raised to our own political leaders. Hopefully some of us will get involved and certainly we all should pray for them.
To underscore the seriousness of this situation, I wish to share the following statements.
First, the Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar M. Warda is quoted as saying “June was the first month in 1,600 years in which Mosul did not celebrate any Mass.”
Second, the Chaldean Catholic patriarch of Iraq, His Beatitude Louis Rafael Sako, proclaimed that these crimes were “not just against Christians, but against humanity.”
And third, Our Holy Father Pope Francis has most recently said, “violence generates more violence;
dialogue is the only path to peace.”
May our prayer, especially over the weekend of Aug. 16 and 17, be that of His Beatitude who has asked us to pray:
“Lord, the plight of our country
is deep and the suffering of Christians
is severe and frightening.
Therefore, we ask you Lord
to spare our lives, and to grant us patience,
and courage to continue our witness of Christian values
with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us
to live with each other without fear and anxiety,
and with dignity and joy.
Glory be to you forever.
Friends, recall the message in Chapter 13 of Hebrews which reminds us to remember those mistreated as if we ourselves are suffering. As Catholics, we are called to band together to shine a light on the deteriorating situation in the Middle East.