Earlier in the week, Barry Rubin was asking Christians around the world but especially in the West some pointed questions:
Christians in Iraq have been, and not for the first time, deliberately targeted in a major terrorist attack. Indeed, from Indonesia to Pakistan to Iraq, from the Gaza Strip to Egypt to Sudan to Nigeria, Christians are being assaulted, intimidated, and murdered by militant Muslims.
Yet virtually never do Christians in any of these countries-perhaps with some occasional exceptions in India–attack Muslims. In the West, there have been no armed terrorist attacks on Muslims or the deliberate killing of Muslims. There does not exist a single group advocating such behavior.
Have you seen any of this in the Western mass media? Have any Christian church groups-some of which find ample time to criticize Israel-even mentioned this systematic assault? Indeed, on the rare occasions that the emigration of Christians is mentioned, somehow it is blamed on Israel, as one American network news show did recently.
According to the Iraqi terrorists’ statement, the church was a, “Dirty place of the infidel that Iraqi Christians have long used as a base to fight Islam.” Increasingly, Islamists are making it clear that any presence of Christians in Muslim-majority countries is unacceptable, just as the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East is unacceptable.
I just cannot understand how this factor and these attacks so often go unnoticed, and certainly unprotested. Isn’t it time for Christians to try to help their persecuted brethren before they are wiped out–or at least forced to flee–altogether
I know that my priest mentioned the attacks this past Sunday and sarcastically wondered whether those of us in the pews were even aware given the short shrift these attacks are getting in the media.
Deacon Greg’s homily this week covers the subject matter movingly:
Exactly two weeks ago, late on a Sunday afternoon, a young woman named Raghada al-Wafi ran to her local church, with some wonderful news to share with the priest who had married her: she was going to have a baby. She asked the priest for a blessing.
He was happy to give it.
It ended up being one of the last acts of his life.
Moments later, the priest, Raghada and her unborn child were slaughtered. They were among the Catholic faithful killed by terrorists at a Baghdad cathedral – Our Lady of Salvation — on October 31st.
It was a horrific attack. Gunmen stormed into the church and accused the Christians of being infidels. Then they began randomly firing on them. Dozens of worshippers sought sanctuary in the church sacristy. But many more weren’t as lucky. The siege lasted four hours. When it was over, more than 50 Iraqi Catholics had been killed, including two priests.
It was one of the deadliest attacks on Christians since the Iraq war began.
It wasn’t the first. It won’t be the last.
I’m frustrated by it all… wondering what I can do in my corner of the world… praying seems to be the gist of it and I shouldn’t short-change that contribution as I know the power that lies in prayer…
This morning, Maria Teresa Landi, friend of a friend, came up with an extraordinary idea: send letters of encouragement to the Christians of Baghdad, who are suffering horrible persecution and killings. They are the Church’s modern-day martyrs.
By day’s end, the Nuncio at the United Nations was offering his diplomatic pouch (direct mail). He proposed to have all letters and messages sent to him by Tuesday night in a package and he will send the package to the Nunciature in Iraq on Wednesday morning.
Please address your emails to the families to His Beatitude Emmanuel Delli, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Baghdad at email@example.com. He will print out the emails and put them in the pouch.
Are there not angels among us? Tere, who is active in the Communion and Liberation movement, is asking that her idea be distributed as widely as possible.
With that as inspiration, I’ve penned and sent the following:
I write a simple note to say that I’m thinking and praying for my brothers and sisters in Iraq, hoping that God’s Holy Spirit will tangibly give evidence for God’s presence in their circumstance and that they will understand how their faith and perseverance is a sign of hope to all who believe in the resurrection…
May God’s strength be theirs, may His love be manifest in their midst and may they continue in the faith given us by our Lord Jesus Christ.
My hope is that some of you will do the same and will share your note here.