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Remember... we have Family in Iraq!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dominican life in Mesopotamia traces its beginnings back to the earliest days of the Order, to 1235 when three Dominican friars journeyed to Baghdad, "a brilliant center of culture and study where Dominic had once dreamed of opening a mission". Today, the Order has seventeen Iraqi brothers and over two hundred apostolic sisters. The friars had a convent in Mosul which was transferred to Karakosh because of anti-Christian violence in Mosul, and they have one house in Baghdad. What is life like for our brothers and sisters? Some reports can be found here and here.

This month has seen a terrible onslaught of attacks by Islamic terrorists against Christians in Iraq. A news report that summarises the events so far is below:

As we celebrated All Saints day recently, a feast which used to celebrate all the martyrs of the Church, our fellow Catholics were being martyred in their church in Baghdad as they gathered for Sunday Mass. The BBC reported the news here, and there was an excellent news report here, and elsewhere, but it was not prominent. So, people whom I met that Monday, 1 November, said they had not heard anything about this massacre.

This shocking incident was condemned by the Holy Father, and the Order of Preachers issued a statement through their UN delegation. An excellent source of world news, indeed, is the website of the Order's UN Delegation, as well as its Facebook page.

Al-Qaida then issued threats against all Christians in Iraq. Calls came from local Church leaders for Christians to leave Iraq. Despite this, the Syrian Catholics gathered again for Mass in the very church where the massacre of 31 October took place, and they prayed for those who died in that attack including two priests and three deacons. On Wednesday 10 November, the terrorists responded by targeting six Christian areas in Baghdad, and specifically attacked the homes of those families who were already affected by the 31 October killings. They identified them by the funerary signs hanging outside the homes, as this report says.

Again, this news was not prominently reported, and Christian friends of mine said they had been unaware of what was happening in Iraq until they noticed the articles and videos I posted on my Facebook page. So, I hope that this Godzdogz post will contribute to raising awareness about the persecution of Christians in Iraq. And they are by no means the only community suffering for their faith today.

In November we remember the dead, but let us also remember the living: our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted. Let us pray for them, stand in solidarity with our fellow Christians, and do whatever we can to advance justice, peace, and concrete solutions in the Middle East, and throughout the world. As Pope Benedict XVI said:" Peace, which is a gift of God, is also the result of the efforts of men of goodwill, of the national and international institutions, in particular of the states most involved in the search for a solution to conflicts. We must never resign ourselves to the absence of peace. Peace is possible. Peace is urgent. Peace is the indispensable condition for a life worthy of humanity and society. Peace is also the best remedy to avoid emigration from the Middle East".

May all the holy martyrs of God pray for us!

Lawrence Lew OP


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