Every second Saturday of the month, 4 pm - Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ. Followed by refreshments.
Next Liturgy: Saturday 13th May, 4pm
To purchase The Divine Liturgy: an Anthology for Worship (in English), order from the Sheptytsky Institute here, or the St Basil's Bookstore here.
To purchase the Divine Praises, the Divine Office of the Byzantine-Slav rite (in English), order from the Eparchy of Parma here.
The new catechism in English, Christ our Pascha, is available from the Eparchy of the Holy Family and the Society. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Thursday, 25 November 2010
The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity just marked its 50th birthday. The council's president saw this as an opportune moment to look at what progress has been made in five decades of dialogue and prayer.
Cardinal Kurt Koch presented a report last week at the council's plenary assembly called "Harvesting the Fruits."
The first fruit, he said, is within the Church itself.
Ecumenism "is no longer a foreign reality" in the life of parishes and dioceses, the cardinal affirmed. "This 'ecumenism of life' is of fundamental importance, as without it, all the theological efforts directed to reaching a lasting agreement on basic issues of faith between the different churches would be in vain."
Cardinal Koch admitted, however, that although the Catholic Church is irreversibly committed to the search for unity, in some respects the problem is still the same as it was at "the point of departure," at the Second Vatican Council.
In this regard, he spoke of the crux of the issue being ecclesiology -- the concept of the nature of the Church.
Cardinal Koch noted how ecumenism and ecclesiology are intimately connected: "Ecumenism was an important theme of the renewal of the Catholic Church herself and of her self-understanding," he said.
He pointed to one of the key issues of the council: the relationship between the universal Church and the local Churches.
But in the realm of ecumenism, the prelate explained, the plural "churches" refers not to local Churches, but to the ecclesial communities not in communion with the Catholic Church.
The ecumenical problem "consists in pointing out how the Catholic Church can and must conduct herself in face of this plural 'churches,' which exist outside of her," he said. This issue arises both in the dialogue with the Orthodox Churches as well as, though in a different way, in the dialogue with the communities of the Reformation.
In regard to the Orthodox, Cardinal Koch explained: "The definition that is most adapted to Orthodox ecclesiology is 'Eucharistic ecclesiology,' a concept developed above all by exiled Russian theologians in Paris after World War I, in clear opposition to the centralism of the papacy of the Roman Catholic Church."
This concept "stresses that the Church of Jesus Christ is present and realized in each particular Church gathered around her bishop, in which the Eucharist is celebrated," he said.
Hence, the cardinal continued, for the Orthodox, with the exception of an ecumenical council "there can be no other visible principle of unity of the universal Church, to which are attributed juridical powers, such as those the Catholic Church recognizes in the Petrine ministry."
According to Catholic ecclesiology, however, the Church is fully present in the concrete Eucharistic communities, but one Eucharistic community alone "is not the Church in her fullness," he explained. "Because of this, the unity between each Eucharistic community united in turn with her own bishop and with the Bishop of Rome is not an external ingredient to Eucharistic ecclesiology, but its essential condition."
The heart of the ecumenical problem between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church lies in the fact that "an ecclesiology linked to the national culture and a Catholic ecclesiology oriented to the concept of universality find themselves one before the other, up to now, in disagreement," Cardinal Koch stated.
Obstacle or opportunity?
Cardinal Koch noted that Pope Paul VI saw this issue as the "greatest obstacle" for reaching full communion with the Orthodox. However, the prelate said, Benedict XVI has also detected in this issue an opportunity for union.
According to the thought of the present Pope, he said, "without primacy, the Catholic Church would also have disintegrated a long time ago in national and sui iuris Churches, which would have confused and complicated the ecumenical landscape."
The council president affirmed that ecumenical dialogue between Catholic and Orthodox has given "encouraging steps," even if more work remains to be done.
Cardinal Koch also observed that progress with the Orthodox can have a positive influence in ecumenical relations with the communities of the Reformation.
In fact , "the ecclesiology of the Reformation also pivots around the local concrete community, as appears clearly in Luther himself," he stressed.
Because of this, Protestant ecclesiology "also finds its gravitational point in the concrete local community: The Church of Jesus Christ is fully present in the concrete communities that gather in the liturgical celebration."
Each community is in a relationship of reciprocal exchange with the others, he continued. "The trans-community dimension of the Church exists implicitly, but is secondary, as is the universal dimension of the Church."
Hence, the cardinal said, the greatest difficulty on this point is "how to relate, on one hand, Catholic ecclesiology, with its dialectic between plurality of local Churches and unity of the universal Church, and on the other, Protestant ecclesiology, which sees in the concrete community the most authentic realization of the Church."
The situation is even more complicated in the case of Protestants because of the controversy over the sacramental dimension of the Church, a topic that marks a profound difference between the Catholic Church and the communities of the Reformation, the cardinal clarified.
Finally, in regard to ecclesiology, another issue to be clarified by Protestants regards the way in which these ecclesial communities conceive themselves: as a break with the 1,500 years of Christianity prior to the Reformation, or as a development in fundamental continuity with it.
In this internal Protestant debate, Cardinal Koch expressed the hope that the second understanding would take root, "and that with it, a satisfactory answer is found, also in view of the anniversary of the Reformation, which will be observed in 2017."
Thursday, 18 November 2010
Consolidating the presence of Christians
Our Churches must create an office or a commission entrusted with the study of the phenomenon of migration and of the factors behind it so as to find ways of stopping it. They are to do all that is possible to boost the presence of Christians in their countries, and to do this especially through development projects to limit the phenomenon of migration.
Pastoral practice for emigration The presence of numerous Eastern Christians in all the continents challenges the Church to devise an appropriate pastoral programme in light of emigration:
1. the Eastern bishops are to visit the seminaries of the Middle East to present the situation and the needs of their eparchies;
2. the formation of seminarians with a missionary spirit, open to different cultures;
3. the preparation and accompaniment of priests missioned outside the patriarchal territory;
4. the promotion of vocations work in the communities outside of the patriarchal territory; and
5. the sending of priests and the establishment of their own eparchies wherever the pastoral needs require them according to the canonical norms.
Emigration and Solidarity
2. to educate Christians who have emigrated to remain faithful to the tradition of their origins;
Emigration - Formation
We urge Churches in the countries which receive immigrants to be familiar with and to respect Eastern theology, traditions and patrimonies, and that this be reflected in their norms, and sacramental and administrative practices. This will help collaboration with Eastern Churches present in those countries, and in the formation and pastoral care of their faithful.
We are seriously concerned about the condition of immigrant workers in the Middle East, both Christians and non-Christians, especially women. Many of them find themselves in situations that are difficult or that even undermine their dignity.
We call on patriarchal synods and episcopal conferences, Catholic charitable institutions, especially Caritas, political leaders, and all people of good will, to do everything in their power to ensure the respect of immigrants' fundamental rights as recognised by international law, regardless of the nationality or religion of the immigrants in question, and to offer them legal and human assistance. Our Churches should seek to provide the spiritual help they need as a sign of Christian hospitality and of ecclesial communion.
To better welcome and guide immigrants to the Middle East, the Churches from which they come are asked to maintain regular contact with the Churches which welcome them by assisting them to set up the structures they need, i.e. parishes, schools, meeting places, etc.
In recent decades, Christians, and especially young people in many countries of the Middle East, have left their homeland in droves. It is under the eyes of all, as a result, that Christians in the Middle East are in great difficulty, they are few in number and are often powerless and resigned.
In this important meeting, feelings of spiritual closeness, support and encouragement for Christians in the Middle East spontaneously emerge, also recalling the ultimate sacrifice that Mons Faraj Raho, Mons Luigi Padovese, Don Andrea Santoro and other priests and many men and women, well-known and admired by Christian communities, offered to the world .
There are also positive aspects in the phenomenon of migration as it had increased the number of Catholics in the region who pour into to certain areas of the Middle East, so much so that there are many Christian communities composed almost exclusively of immigrants, always more in greater contact with people of other religions, especially Muslims.
In this scenario, it is decisive to urge for a political commitment at a global level that addresses the causes of this haemorrhaging of men and women that empties the Churches of the Middle East and the places where Christianity was born and developed. It would be terrible if the Holy Land and its neighbours, the cradle of Christianity and home of the Prince of Peace, were to become a museum of stone, a beloved memory of past times! Equally indispensable and is a cultural commitment, that is, formation with respect to the centrality and dignity of every human person, the opposition to xenophobia, sometimes encouraged by the media, and support in integration that safeguards people’s identity..
While I view the emerging social problems with concern, I also notice the risk that the individual Eastern Catholic Churches should fold back on themselves. Christians Communities of the Middle East should be encouraged towards a better mutual understanding, which helps them to respect and appreciate each other more, to cooperate and work together in order to carry more weight.
This meeting will certainly show solidarity and support for Christians in the Middle East, so that they will feel encouraged to remain in their countries, in order to carry out their mission as “leaven”, through the life and witness of communion and, where possible, also with the explicit proclamation of Jesus Christ the only Lord and Saviour.
Finally, in confidence: I am very happy with this Synod, which will help you Eastern Churches get to know each other better along with the Latin Church. And if know each other, we will love and help each other more.
One of the major challenges threatening the presence of Christians in some countries in the Middle East is emigration. This topic is a common concern in all Churches, and should be considered in an ecumenical partnership. The main causes of this troubling phenomenon are economic and political situations, the rise of fundamentalism, and the restriction of freedoms and equality, exacerbated strongly by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the war in Iraq. Youth, the educated and affluent people are more likely to leave, depriving the Church and the country of its most valuable resources. Emigration has become a general phenomenon that affects Christians and Muslims. It deprives our Churches and our countries of valuable and moderate elements. The motives that cause people, especially Christians, to leave the region would constitute a good subject of sincere and frank dialogue with Muslims.
5. Christian immigration to the Middle East from the World Over
The Middle Eastern countries are experiencing a new phenomenon: receiving many African and Asian migrant workers, most of whom are women. They find themselves in an atmosphere of Muslim predominance, and sometimes with little opportunity for religious practice. Many feel abandoned, faced with abuse and mistreatment, in situations of injustice, and violation of laws and international conventions. Some immigrants change their names to be more accepted and supported.
Our Churches must make a greater effort to help them, by welcoming, by support, and by human, religious and social assistance. In each of our countries, our Catholic Churches should establish a special pastoral care proper for them in a coordinated effort among the bishops, religious congregations, and social and charitable organizations. This also requires cooperation between the Catholic authorities of the place, and the hierarchy of the Churches of origin.
(Patriarch Antonios Naguib Ref. http://www.vatican.va/news_services/press/sinodo/documents/bollettino_24_speciale-medio-oriente-2010/02_inglese/b17_02.html )
We appeal to you to redouble your efforts to establish a just and lasting peace throughout the region and to stop the arms race, which will lead to security and economic prosperity and stop the haemorrhage of emigration which empties our countries of its vital forces. Peace is a precious gift entrusted by God to human family, whose members are to be “peacemakers who will be called children of God.” (Mt 5:9)
The Palestinian people will thus have an independent and sovereign homeland where they can live with dignity and security. The State of Israel will be able to enjoy peace and security within their internationally recognized borders. The Holy City of Jerusalem will be able to acquire its proper status, which respects its particular character, its holiness and the religious patrimony of the three religions: Jewish, Christian and Muslim. We hope that the two-State-solution might become a reality and not a dream only.
Iraq will be able to put an end to the consequences of its deadly war and re-establish a secure way of life which will protect all its citizens with all their social structures, both religious and national.
Lebanon will be able to enjoy sovereignty over its entire territory, strengthen its national unity and carry on in its vocation to be the model of coexistence between Christians and Muslims, of dialogue between different cultures and religions, and of the promotion of basic public freedoms.
We condemn violence and terrorism from wherever it may proceed as well as all religious extremism. We condemn all forms of racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Christianism and Islamophobia and we call upon the religions to assume their responsibility to promote dialogue between cultures and civilisations in our region and in the entire world.
(Ref. http://www.radiovaticana.org/EN1/Articolo.asp?c=433320 )
Tuesday, 16 November 2010
KIEV, Ukraine, NOV. 15, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Church in Ukraine was supposed to disappear. Communists tried to liquidate it in 1946, but believers took the faith underground, maintaining it as a catacomb Church for more than 40 years.
Lubomyr Husar, a future leader of the Church in Ukraine, was born in Kiev in 1933 but amid the communist uproar, his family fled the country, first finding refuge in Austria and then settling in the United States in 1949. They lived in the States for 20 years and young Lubomyr would pursue his priestly vocation there, becoming a priest of the Ukrainian eparchy of Stamford, Connecticut, in 1958.
He went on to live in Italy for more than two decades, and then, after a 46-year absence, returned to his native Ukraine. Today, at age 77, and now a cardinal (since 2001), he is the major archbishop of Kiev.
In this interview given to the television program "Where God Weeps" of the Catholic Radio and Television Network (CRTN) in cooperation with Aid to the Church in Need, the cardinal reflects on the hand of Divine Providence in his Church that was "supposed to disappear."
Q: Your parents must have been the example for you. Did you always have a desire or sense of a vocation?
Cardinal Husar: It came about very early as a matter of fact. I think it was before I was 10 years old that I somehow had this desire to become a priest. Now of course during the war it was very difficult -- one could only dream about it -- but when the war ended and then when we came to the United States in 1949, it was possible to realize that dream and I entered the seminary within three weeks after our arrival in the United States.
Q: At a tender age of 10 years old, was th ere a person or an event that triggered this desire for the priesthood?
Cardinal Husar: I think it was the good example of the priest of the church to which my family usually went. The church was under the care of the Redemptorist Fathers and they worked very zealously, they preached very well, they took care of the faithful who came to their church. As a young boy I was a member of the community dedicated to the Blessed Mother into which the Redemptorist Fathers gathered and sort of guided us; I’m sure this somehow had something to do with my vocation.
Q: You are now responsible for the Greek Catholics, not only in Ukraine, but also in the Diaspora and many of them are in the United States. Do you see that Providence brought you to the United States early so that you could learn the culture and the people there?
Cardinal Husar: I’m personally convinced that the history of our Church for the last, let us say 130 years, f rom the time when the first wave of immigrants came to the U.S. -- this would be from the 1880s to the 1890s -- that this whole movement, which was then repeated after the First and the Second World War, was somehow Providential. That our Church could establish herself in North and South America and was able to survive the trying years when the Church in the Motherland was persecuted helped us very, very much. I think today there is another fourth wave coming into the U.S. and Canada and they are now finding a new home for themselves in the churches that have existed for a hundred years.
I somehow also feel that it is Providential that we can serve the community -- not only our own community helping to maintain the faith and tradition -- but that we can also witness to others about the true catholicity of the Church, the broadness of the Church, her capability of existing in various cultures and languages and I feel that somehow this is also an act of Divine Providence.
Q: You first went back to Ukraine at the end of Communism. What was your first impression when you came back to Ukraine?
Cardinal Husar: I visited Ukraine for the first time in 1990 and it was very short, only for 10 days. I met some priests and laypeople. The impression was, I would say, somewhat mixed, because on the one hand I was facing the reality of those people who had gone through a very, very hard period and on the other hand I realized that these people, because of what they had gone through, had been also greatly damaged. I have been in Ukraine for almost 15 years permanently now and I am amazed; not every day, but almost every day, I discover something new about that reality which was and what effect, what consequences it left in the hearts of the people.
The communist party, supported by the communist state, tried very assiduously and in a very refined way to change people, to make them for get that they are creatures of God and to really convince them that they are creatures of the state -- that they are completely dependent on the state. In other words, trying to make them assume a different nature and morality. This is still with us today although people have, thanks be to God, in good numbers, maintained their faith and go to church in great numbers. But living a Christian life daily doesn’t come easy for them because they have been educated in a different way, contrary to the principles of Christian morality.
Q: What would be the deepest, lingering scar that communism left on the hearts or spirituality of the people?
Cardinal Husar: I do not know if I would be able to identify any one particular -- the worst scar so to say -- but generally it is the lack of trust in people, in neighbors and even members of one’s own family, because the whole system was set up on a system of fear and that fear consisted of not trusting anyone.
Q: You once said: "The problem is the East -- that is the Byzantine tradition -- does not know the West, the Latin Church, and the West does not know the East." What did you mean by this?
Cardinal Husar: I meant this almost literally. In this sense that Western Europe, which is of Latin culture, and Eastern Europe, which basically is of Byzantine culture, do not know one another simply by the fact of historical circumstances; there has not been a sufficient exchange.
There may be two reasons for it. One may be an external reason, the political situation, the political division between Western and Eastern Europe, which was very obvious during the Cold War, the Iron Curtain. Such mentalities of an “Iron Curtain” have been there for many decades maybe even centuries. The second aspect is that Western Europe, mainly a Latin culture, has also been a Catholic culture while in Easter n Europe, due to circumstances that have developed over the years and centuries, the Byzantine culture has been primarily identified with what is generally called the Orthodox traditions. I speak here of the Orthodox in a confessional way, which has prevented an easy exchange between these two cultures, which we consequently know today as East and West.
Q: Pope John Paul II spoke of Europe with two lungs: The Byzantine or Orthodox and the Catholic. What gifts can the Latin Church bring to the Byzantine and what can the Byzantine, or Orthodox tradition, bring to the Catholic Church?
Cardinal Husar: A little clarification is necessary here because the Eastern and Western aspect -- or both lungs as you say -- should not be so totally identified between Catholics and Orthodox. The majority of those in the East are Orthodox and the majority of those in the West are Catholics, however, there are Catholics in the Eastern traditions so we shouldn’t exclusively identify it this way.
But what the Holy Father spoke of was an exchange of gifts -- spiritually speaking. I think there are certain aspects in the West and in the East, which if both sides know them, would enrich the East with the West and the West with the East. I will not be able to identify them precisely at the moment but in general one of them is faith. And I think that we should be very conscious of the fact that although we have two lungs there is always one heart behind it, and that one heart is Jesus Christ who is recognized by the different cultures in somewhat different ways, but is fundamentally the same Jesus Christ in the West and in the East. However, there are certain accents and I think these accents should be studied and should be made to be the expression of this exchange of gifts.
Q: You knew Father Werenfried, the Founder of Aid to the Church in Need. Can you tell me: What was the importance of Aid to the Church in Need in the story of the Greek Catholic Church and what is its continuing importance today?
Cardinal Husar: In the 60s, 70s and 80s, the work of Father Werenfried and Aid to the Church in Need, the organization that he founded -- I would say very frankly, that he loved our Church and helped our Church when it was not popular to do so. We were supposed to disappear. We had been liquidated. Officially we should not have been mentioned and yet at that time, Father Werenfried was willing to help as much as could be done in those days of persecution. So I think in this sense -- apart from the material help that was offered -- the moral help that was given, this faith in our Church, in its existence and its eventual revival, I think this has been of capital importance for us.
Today, of course the situation is different. Today Aid to the Church in Need, for example helps us still very much with certain projects. One of the bigger proje cts is the Ukrainian Catholic University, the only Catholic university in the former Soviet Union. When the Holy Father John Paul II came to Ukraine in 2001, he passed along the side where the seminary and the faculty of theology were and where the representatives of the university were present. Among them was Father Werenfried and the Holy Father thanked him specifically for what he has done for us. So I think in this sense, in the new conditions when our Church is free and can develop, the work of Father Werenfried still carries on.
* * *
This interview was conducted by Mark Riedemann for "Where God Weeps," a weekly television and radio show produced by Catholic Radio and Television Network in conjunction with the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.
--- --- ---
On the Net:
For more information: www.WhereGodWeeps.org
The entire interview from which this text was adapted: www.wheregodweeps.org/the-mediator-the-greek-catholic-church-in-ukraine/
The wounded include 16 women, three children and seven men -- transferred by plane from Baghdad together with 21 relatives.
The attack left 58 dead and more than 100 wounded. France has already welcomed over 70 of the injured Iraqis for hospital care.
The Rome hospitalization was organized by the Italian foreign affairs ministry in collaboration with the polyclinic, at the specific invitation of Benedict XVI's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
According to a note from the polyclinic's press office, the wounded are almost all in fair condition and are being cared for by a multi-disciplinary task force provided by the management of highest emergencies. The relatives of the injured are staying in a structure adjacent to the hospital made available by the affiliated University of the Sacred Heart.
In statements on the blog "Baghdadhope" Father Ameer Gammo, one of the Iraqi priests and seminarians who visited the wounded, said: "They are persons wounded in body and soul who still don't know how to express their pain.
"Too little time has passed and the pain, the real pain that torments the soul, will fall on them perhaps in a few months time.
"However, even if it seems impossible, they have given me courage. They have given courage and comfort to all of us priests and seminarians who met with them today."
The priest reported that "there is a girl who was hit by a bullet that fi rst went through Father Wasim's body."
Father Wasim Sabieh and Father Thaier Saad Abdal were both killed in the attack.
Father Gammo continued: "When I saw her, and I saw her smile, her serenity, I almost lacked the courage to ask her how she was. However, she herself gave me the strength and told me of being, with her mother, the only survivor of her family.
"I still see that sweet smile and above all in mind the answer to what was her mystery: the unbreakable faith of these persons that makes them strong even in tragedy."
Father Gammo noted, "Many of those people have said the same thing to us: that while they were in the church they wished to die because what was happening was too horrible to endure, but also that in their hearts they had seen even in that circumstance goodness, absolute love of the faith that drove Father Thaier to embrace the children close to him in the desperate attempt to save them."
"All the stories these persons tell are tragic, every one of them lost someone they loved," the priest affirmed.
He continued: "Among the wounded is also the mother of a three-year-old child, Adam, who was killed together with his father. This woman has with her daughter of a few months who was hit by a bullet, which went through her leg, and she told me how no sooner she was able to come out of the church than she entrusted her daughter to a doctor and returned to get Adam."
The priest said that the woman "had not realized that her son was dead because in all that time she had not heard him cry but only shout, 'Enough! Enough!' And that is why she carried him outside asking another doctor to save him."
According to what "Baghdadhope" reported, a group of Iraqi Christians gathered in St. Peter's Square on Sunday to pray the midday Angelus with the Pope, carrying the flag of Iraq and photos of some of the victims of the carnage in the cathedral.
By Robert Cheaib
ROME, NOV. 15, 2010 (Zenit.org).- When it's a question of children dying in the name of an ideology that believes it is doing God's will by killing babies, pregnant women, priests and elderly people, a Christian journalist cannot be professional if he does not express his indignation. He also cannot be merely the indifferent echo of events, but rather the voice that makes the difference; to be the voice of those who no longer have a voice because their cry has been suffocated by violence and drowned by tears.
Many people would like to help the persecuted Christians in Iraq, but often they do not have the means, or they simply don't know what to do. Undoubtedly, prayer is essential, but true prayer is crowned with action. Because of this, ZENIT's Arabic edition has decided to give a voice to those who are living the tragedy in Iraq, so that the world can hear not so much their cries of despair, but rather their proposals of hope for a possible resurrection of the crucified Christians in their country.
For reasons of privacy and security, including that of their families in Iraq, we are not using their names, but only their initials.
Role of the media
Iraqi priest A.N., friend and fellow student of the martyred Fathers Thaer and Wassim, writes: "As a Christian and an Iraqi I ask all to commit themselves to letting the voice of Iraqi Christians heard throughout the world using the authority of the media, because our own means are limited and poor, and we are in great need of a strong and multilingual means to make our voice and cry reach international governmental authorities."
Moreover, the priest explained that what is known about the suffer ings of Christians in Iraq is only a drop in the ocean. Their dramas are certainly not limited to the tragedy of Our Lady Of Deliverance Church. That is why he invited the media to make known "all the violent murders, massacres, persecutions and kidnappings to which Christians are exposed daily." And he stressed that this endeavor is "a necessary testimony to truth, which alone is able to save the world."
Iraqis in diaspora
Another letter we received was from Lebanese Father A.F., who has been working for several years helping Iraqi refugees, both Muslims and Christians, in Mount Lebanon. The priest requested that attention be paid not only to Christians present in Iraq, but also to the great number of Iraqi Muslims and Christians forgotten for many years in small nations such as Lebanon.
They are forgotten because they do not make news or provide scoop, but in reality "they are several thousands, in need of both material and moral support." Thousands of Iraqis have been received in neighboring countries, and in the case of Lebanon, there are serious economic difficulties to carry out this assumed commitment with gratitude and generosity, explained Father A.
Hence, he launches an appeal to important humanitarian organizations to help the churches, convents and small Lebanese communities, which for years have been helping Iraqi refugees.
Create a future
Doctor W.W., Iraqi humanitarian activist, who in the last attack lost seven friends, described the situation thus: "Christians in Iraq are divided between those who wish to resist and stay and those who are afraid and want to leave because the situation has truly and gravely escalated."
And she added: "I know that the Church doesn't want people to emigrate, but the situation now is far graver than preserving the Christian tradition and civilization s o rooted in this land. [...] At stake are the lives of persons and I cannot imagine that the Church, which is Mother and Teacher, prefers stones to persons."
Hence she invites all Christians worldwide, especially in the West, to take concrete steps to create a future for Iraq's Christians, helping them to transfer to other countries: "Knowing that it is utopian to ask every family of Europe to adopt an Iraqi family, I suggest something more practical: that each parish adopt a Christian family of Iraq, to enable it to begin again with a fitting life."
New diffusion of faith
Finally, Monk P.M. appealed to international communities and to important Christian communities to exact from Islamic nations and Muslims an open and clear denunciation of the barbarous acts and not to remain as passive spectators in face of the massacre, "because if they really reject it, they should denounce it openly."
And, together with these concrete steps, he invites us to raise our gaze to Christian hope and remember that this is how the Church began: "After Pentecost, persecution began, and as a result of persecution, the Church spread."
In this context, he reminded that the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which was held last month in the Vatican, has been compared to a "new Pentecost," and added that, precisely after this new Pentecost, the same old scene is being repeated: the arrival of persecution.
"Rejoice," Monk P.M. continued, "dear martyrs, because the Lord has heard the cry of your blood, which will be the foundation of new Churches and the seed of new Christians."
He then quoted a very timely passage of St. Ignatius of Antioch, who wrote: "'Pray for other men 'without interruption.' In them there is hope of conversion so that they will encounter God. Let th em learn from your deeds. In the face of their anger be meek, in the face of their megalomania be humble, counter their blasphemies with your prayers; in the face of their error 'remain firm in the faith'; in the face of their ferocity be peaceful, do not try to imitate them. In kindness let us feel ourselves their brothers, trying to be imitators of the Lord. Who more than him has suffered from injustice? Who has had more privations than him?"
"All we can do," the monk concluded, "is to show the world that love is stronger than the sword."
* * *
Robert Cheaib is editor of ZENIT's Arabic edition.
Saturday, 13 November 2010
Holy See's UN Delegate Leads Prayer Service for Syrian Catholic Victims of Islamist Persecution in Iraq
Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, said this tonight in New York City's Church of the Holy Family -- located one block away from the United Nations -- during a special evening prayer service for the victims of the Oct. 31 attack.
The Holy See's Mission, in conjunction with the Syriac Catholic Diocese of Our Lady of Deliverance and the Archdiocese of New York, organized the event on behalf of the 58 victims who died in the attack, and the more than 100 who we re left wounded. Also in attendance was Bishop Yousif Habash, the Syriac Catholic bishop for the United States and Canada.
Archbishop Chullikatt had been the apostolic nuncio to Iraq and Jordan for the last four years until arriving in New York two months ago to fill his new post at the United Nations. His former residence in Baghdad was only a short distance from the cathedral, and he knew the priests who were murdered -- Father Thaer Abdal and Father Wassim Al-Qas Boutrus -- as well as other victims.
In his opening remarks he lamented that some of the families who lost loved ones on that day have been subject to further attacks on their homes.
"What happened on Oct. 31 is the worst possible nightmare," he said. "And the nightmare is not over. Some of the same families who lost loved ones then, have in the meantime, suffered further violent attacks on their homes. The situation is intolerable."
"We all are sadden ed to hear of places of worship being attacked," the archbishop continued. "We are especially outraged by these heinous acts when they are perpetrated for the sake of eradicating a religion from a particular place in God’s creation, when our brothers and sisters are killed just because of their faith. That is never the way to spread faith in God.
He concluded with an impassioned plea for peace and reconciliation: "Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you."
The archbishop said that not only do the dead and their families need prayers, but also those assembled need to pray "so that our hearts do not grow bitter and so that we can do our share in building a world that values and promotes reconciliation, harmony, love and peace among peoples, nations and religions."
In the program for the event, the names of all the martyrs of Our Lady of Deliverance were published. Here are the names as they appeared :
Rev. Father Thaer Abdal
Rev. Father Wassim Al-Qas Boutrus
George Ayoub Toubaias
Thaer Kamel with his wife Nada and his son Omar
Nada Hamis Stefan
Younan Georgis Alsaour with his son and daughter-in-law and granddaughter
Rita Matti Georgis Zora
Sandro John Younan
Maha Naseef Bino with her two sons Wisam and Salam
Fayez Waedallah Qzazi
Audai Zhair Marzeina Arab
Adam Audai Zhair Arab
Behnam Mansour Paulus Mamika
Ayoub Adnan Ayoub Berjo
Sabah Matti Hamai
Saed Edward Alsaati
Fares Najeeb Philip Anawi
Vivine Naser Maro
Nazir Abdulahad Anai
Mazen Fadil Salim Elias Mahrouk
Nizar Jamil Matloub
Noel Nizar Jamil Matl oub
Bassam Jamil Al-Khouri
Adnan Jamil Al-Khouri
Salah Georgis AbdelAhad Qaqo
Christine Nabil Toubaia Katnawi
Raed Saadallah Abdal
Fadi Samir Habib Amso
Athil Nageeb Aboudi
Nizar Hazem Al Sayegh
Friday, 12 November 2010
Bombs went off at three Christian homes on Tuesday evening, and mortar bombs exploded Wednesday throughout Christian neighborhoods such as Dora, in southern Baghdad, Aid to the Church in Need reported.
Vatican Radio reported Wednesday that at least six are dead. Some 26 were injured, including a four-month-old baby. Another Church was damaged.
Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, said that the terrorists "are hunting Christians of all the neighborhoods of Baghdad."
The Islamic State of Iraq, a group associated with Al Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for the attacks, Aid to the Church in Need reported.
Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil told the aid agency: "Al Qaeda said churches and Christians would be a target. This is proof that they are serious and that they mean what they say."
One of the attacks specifically targeted the family of a victim of the Oct. 31 massacre, noted the Iraqi Christian news service Ankawa, which stated that the terrorists identified the house by the funeral signs hanging outside the home.
"The people are suffering so much fear," Archbishop Warda said. "There is anger and distress and they don't know where to turn."
The prelate asserted, "Pressure needs to be put on the government to provide adequate protection for Christians."
He added, "What we are faced with here is not just a failure of security but a deliberate targeting of Christians."
Vatican Radio noted that outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited the Syrian Catholic cathedral of Baghdad on Tuesday and exhorted Christians not to leave the country. "We will do everything possible for the Iraqi community to remain complete and united," he said.
Archbishop Warda noted that Christians had just begun to return to Baghdad, after fleeing previous violence, settling especially in the Dora district. He said that the number of Catholic churches and religious houses in that neighborhood earned it the nickname "The Vatican of Iraq."
Archbishop Atanase Matti Shaba Matoka, Syrian Catholic archbishop of Baghdad, said to Fides: "A deep sadness envelops our community.
"The wave of attacks is increasing. Ten days ago, the carnage in our cathedral. Today, they've come to our doorstep. The families are mourning. Everyone wants to escape. It is a terrib le thing."
He added, "What can we do, what can we say?"
The archbishop continued: "Despite the proclamations, the government does nothing to stop this wave of violence that overwhelms us. There are policemen in front of the churches, but now the homes of our faithful are being attacked."
"Christian families have been affected: Chaldeans, Syriac Catholics, Assyrians, and other denominations in the district of Dora," he said. "Terror knocks at our doors. Families are upset. This is no life, they say."
The prelate said: "They want to drive us out and they are succeeding. The country is in the throes of destruction and terrorism.
"The suffering of Christians increases and they want to leave the country. We are left speechless."
Hope and prayer
Archbishop Matoka concluded: "We plea for prompt action from the international community and beseec h the Holy Father and the universal Church to come to our aid.
"Today we cannot help but hope and pray, entrusting our lives in God's hands. Iraqi Christians, amidst their tears, cry out: 'In manus tuas, Domine.'"
According to Vatican Radio, the attacks and aggressions are taking place because of the lack of an adequate security framework.
Monsignor Philip Najim, apostolic visitor for Chaldean Catholics in Europe stated: "No doubt the terrorists want to demonstrate to the whole world that there is a political vacuum in Iraq and that there is no national identity in the country.
"They want to demonstrate that today Iraq is incapable, with this political leadership, of creating a government that feels responsible for the people, that feels the responsibility to educate and to ensure a normal life to the people."
The interlocutor of Vatican Radio denied that there is a conflict between Christians and Muslims: "Christians and Muslims have always lived together and together they have built the future of the country.
"The terrorists also try to create this fear, through the media and fuel an unstable situation to demonstrate the weakness of a country that has lost a level of security for all its citizens."
The blood of our fallen heroes cries out to the world and all humanity, and urges the Christians of Iraq, wherever we are, to "preach" to the world about the suffering and risen Christ who lives in our wounded land.
Yes, I say "preach" because our faith is good news, as it "was and will always be." Who has ears to hear, hear us now, and know that Christ lives in the Christians of Iraq. It's a witness that lives and will continue to live. And if there is someone who does not feel the importance of witnessing in life, we would only say to him and to the whole world, that for us it is life itself. What the world calls "nothing," for us it is "everything"!
The Christians of Iraq are well aware that the risen Christ has conquered death, not because they are baptized believers, but rather because, with him, they have experienced death on the cross several times, and with him they drank the bitter cup, and have experienced the abandonment of others. And side by side with him they walked the way of his cross, and fell under the weight of their cross -- once in the attack on their churches, one with death, and yet another with the massacre of Our Lady of Salvation. Yet, they continue to stand up and live their faith as they have always done throughout history, walking along the path of suffering.
For Christians in Iraq, Oct. 31 was not the first time they have suffered, and no human being, especially those who claim to want peace, but really don't, can pretend that this will be the last time. But they do not interest us, because our hope has never been, and never will be, in them, but in the One who took up his cross and walked the path of death to ensure that life will continue and eventually win.
Iraq's Christians have experienced deeply the meaning of life because they have experienced its joys after having tasted the bitterness of grief. They have lived in hope after experiencing the power of tragedy. They experienced laughter after having paid tears, and have experienced smiles after seeing their will broken by violence. These are really the Christians of Iraq with their good hearts, who love everyone, their country, and life, and these are those who forgive their enemies, and sow goodness wherever they are, spreading the spirit of peace. And despite their great suffering, they never forgot to live their Christian spirit in every place they went.
As an example of all this I can show you the Church of Our Lady of Salvation, which speaks on behalf of all Christians in Iraq, and which give examples written with the blood of its martyrs.
Have you heard how they died in this massacre, the two brave priests, and Wasim Sabieh and Thaier Saad Abdal? Did you know that they defended the faithful and tried to save their lives by offering their own from the first moment the criminals set foot in church? Did you know that a father protected his son by covering him completely with his own body while they were lying on the floor, and died in a hail of bullets so that the child would survive? Have you heard that the killers murdered a four-month-old baby girl and a young woman who, on the day of her death, had received the best news, namely that she was pregnant, and so went to church t o thank God for this gift?
O people of the world, these are the Christians of Iraq. Hear and evangelize to everyone!
And you Christians of Iraq, when sadness fills your soul and you cannot imagine the future, look up there, to the God of Heaven and Earth, and remember well who you are and let the world know! Christ will not leave us alone, we are his "little flock," and he wants us to remain forever with him, to live our faith and our love for all as we have always done, because as he tells us, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples" (John 13: 35).
We witness with our lives, so that the world can see what is happening to us, so that those who have plugged their ears and those who have shut their mouths will speak about who we are. We are the Christians of Iraq!
[Translation by ZENIT]
* * *
Father Albert Hisham Naoum is an Iraqi Chaldean priest studying communications in Rome, and was a friend of Father Wasim Sabieh and Father Thaier Saad Abdal, the two priests who died in the Oct. 31 attack on Our Lady of Salvation Syrian Catholic Church.
Thursday, 11 November 2010
ROME, NOV. 12, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Oct. 31 attack on an Iraqi Christian church is being called an "act of unprecedented ferocity." This was the description made by Auxiliary Bishop Mikhael Al Jamil of the Patriarchate of Antioch of the Syrians in Lebanon, at a Mass celebrated in Rome this Wednesday for the 58 who died in the massacre and the more than 100 people who were wounded.
"The grave attack of last Oct. 31 on the Syrian Catholic Church of Baghdad was an act of unprecedented ferocity against defenseless persons, gathered in prayer," he said. Tuesday and Wednesday, there were more attacks against Christians in Iraq.
Bishop Al Jamil described the situation in the country as "increasingly difficult, so much so that many feel constrained to flee." He reflected that "they [the victims] do not belong to any faction in combat, they do not take part in the internal conflicts of the county and do not have arms, not even to defend their lives."
Bishop Al Jamil invited Islam "to recover the role it had when Christians and Muslims created the Arab civilization together, and not to allow terrorism and other political components, whether Eastern or Western, to empty the East of Christianity."
He urged renewing "this beautiful image of secular dialogue and of Muslim-Christian coexistence."
The bishop decried a policy that seeks to make of the Middle East a simple ensemble "of religions, of various sects and of other components forged by political designs, which have as the sole result the destruction of a true and beau tiful Middle East, to create a monster that will always have need to recover and be cured in the hospital of international politics [...] a policy that is without history, without tradition, without religious ethics, without a Redeemer, without God."
"The Western democracies do not succeed in understanding the Eastern mentality and above all the political thought of some fanatical currents of Islam that consider their Christian fellow citizens an extensions of the colonial West and actually a continuity of the Crusades," and, unfortunately, "the better Islam has been unable up to now to deplore sufficiently or put an end to these currents," he explained.
"We hope that Muslims will be able to be more decisive in protecting their civil and religious ethics, committing themselves to support the trust and tranquility of their Christian brothers," he added.
Finally, Bishop Al Jamil requested the West to find the courage to "raise its voice against all fanaticism, all injustice and all violence, in defense of the coexistence between various components of our Middle Eastern countries and of religious minorities.
Wednesday, 10 November 2010
Father Faadi and Father Aysar, both in their 30s, returned to Baghdad from studies in Rome to celebrate the Liturgy on Sunday and minister to the survivors of the Oct. 31 massacre. It was held amid the wreckage of pews, statues, and windows, with the participation of 60 faithful, Aid to the Church in Need reported.
They honored the 52 people killed in the attack, including Father Wasim Sabieh and Father Thaier Saad Abdal, and prayed for the 78 injured.
The aid agency spoke with Syrian Catholic Archbishop Georges Casmoussa of Mosul, who af firmed the "courage and determination" of the priests and the people who gathered there. He reported that Father Raphael Qatin, who was wounded in the attack and thought to have died in the hospital, had in fact begun to recover from being shot in the stomach.
Yet, on Sunday, two more Christians were shot dead, AsiaNews reported. One, Louay Daniel Yacoub, 49, was killed outside his apartment; the name of the other has not yet been released.
"Many, many of our people have lost confidence," the archbishop said. "But I have confidence in our neighbours."
He continued: "It is not only Christianity which does not allow people to kill others. This principle applies to others including Muslims."
"Since the tragedy in Baghdad, so many people here in Iraq have condemned this act of terrorism," the prelate said. "If they condemn this terrorism in their statements, they must be willing to take action to prevent it from happening in the future."
He asserted, "The government needs to give protection to Christian schools and churches and change the laws so that they are more favorable to Christians."
Archbishop Casmoussa added, "We need to feel that we Christians are the same rank as others -- that we are on the same level as them."
Samir Sumaidaie, the Iraqi ambassador to the United States, said that he was "shocked and saddened" by the attack and "very worried" that it would result in a greater exodus of Christians from that region.
This exodus, he said, "would be extremely damaging for Iraq."
Rome, 9th November, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity will celebrate its 50th birthday with an ecumenical event this November 17th.
The event will be presided over by Archbishop Kurt Koch, president of the council, and will be attended by Cardinal Walter Kasper, retired president, Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, and Metropolitan Pergamo Ioannis (Zizioulas) of the ecumenical patriarchate of Constantinople.
What would become the pontifical council was established by Blessed Pope John XXIII on June 5, 1960. In 1988 Pope John Paul II changed the name of the secretariat to the current Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
The date for the celebratory event coincides with the council's plenary session, which will be held Nov. 15-19 and focus on the theme: "Towards a New Stage of Ecumenical Dialogue."
"This review of the past, focusing on the moment of foundation and on the road travelled thus far, will provide an occasion to give thanks to God for those people who have helped to advance the cause of ecumenism, and for the abundant fruits that have been produced," a statement from the council affirmed today. "It will likewise help to arouse renewed interest in the cause of unity and underline the firm resolve to continue the journey towards the full communion of all Christians, confidently facing the new challenges that arise."
Third annual conference, sponsored by the Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh Foundation in the Metropolitan's memory will take place on Saturday, 27 November 2010, from 9-45, ending with Pannikhida at 6 pm, at St Sava's Serbian Orthodox Cathedral Church Hall, Lancaster Road W11 1QQ. To apply, contact Olga Pattison on 01869 347457. Speakers:
- Fr Michel Evdokimov
- Marina Barabanova Holdsworth
- Fr John Lee
- Fr John Marks
- Irina von Schlippe
Tuesday, 9 November 2010
SOFIA, Bulgaria, NOV. 8, 2010 (Zenit.org).
The Eastern Catholic bishops of Europe are underlining their full communion with the See of Peter as part of the criteria of ecclesiology of the Churches. This was one of the conclusions of an annual meeting of the Eastern Catholic bishops, which concluded Sunday in Sofia.
The theme of the meeting, which was sponsored by the Council of European Bishops' Conferences (CCEE), was "The ecclesiological Criteria of the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Reality Today." It also marked the 150th anniversary of the union of Bulgaria's Eastern Catholic Church with Rome.
Some 35 prelates representing various Eastern Churches of Europe took part in the meeting, along with Cardinal Peter Erdo, CCEE president, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, and other representatives of that dicastery. Members of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers also participated.
On Friday, at the beginning of the meeting, there was a prayer service in memory of Monsignor Eleuterio Fortino, who died due to illness on Sept. 22. He was supposed to have given the opening talk on "The Ecclesiological Criteria of the Eastern Catholic Churches on the Basis of the Vatican II Documents and Recent Papal Documents," but before he passed away he provided an outline for the address. Thus Father Manuel Nin, rector of Rome's Pontifical Greek College, was able to give the talk based on the outline and previous works of Monsignor Fortino, who had served as subsecretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and focused particularly on relations with the Orthodox Churches.
Archbishop Antonio Vegliò, president of th e Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, next gave a talk on "Pastoral Structures for Catholic Migrants from the Eastern Churches, on the Basis of the Instruction 'Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi.'"
The Byzantine exarch of Sofia, Bishop Christo Proykov, who hosted the meeting in his region, presided over a Divine Liturgy with the participants in which they recalled the Greek Catholic martyrs of the communist persecution and how that Church was almost wiped out.
In another Divine Liturgy, celebrated on Saturday, Cardinal Sandri gave the homily and urged his listeners to give an authentic witness of faith to young people in particular.
Archbishop Janusz Bolonek, apostolic nuncio to Bulgaria, read a letter that Benedict XVI sent through his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, for the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Byzantine Catholic Church in Bulgaria.
The next annual meeting of Eastern bishops will ta ke place in Oradea, Romania, on the theme, "You Will Be My Witnesses: The Evangelization in Europe's Catholic Eastern Churches."