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 14th July - 3pm Great Vespers, 4pm Divine Liturgy for Sunday

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 johnchrysostom@btinternet.com for details.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Church Bells Fall Silent in Mosul as Iraq’s Christians Flee - The Daily Beast


The advance of ISIS has ended over a thousand years of Christian worship in Mosul—the latest chapter in the long decline of Christianity in the Middle East.

Last Sunday, for the first time in 1600 years, no mass was celebrated in Mosul. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized Iraq’s second largest city on June 10, causing most Christians in the region to flee in terror, in new kinship with the torment of Christ crucified on the cross. The remnant of Mosul’s ancient Christian community, long inhabitants of the place where many believe Jonah to be buried, now faces annihilation behind ISIS lines. Those who risk worship must do so in silence, praying under new Sharia regulations that have stilled every church bell in the city.

The media has largely ignored the horrifying stories that are emerging from Mosul. On June 23, the Assyrian International News Agency reported that ISIS terrorists entered the home of a Christian family in Mosul and demanded that they pay the jizya (a tax on non-Muslims). According to AINA, “When the Assyrian family said they did not have the money, three ISIS members raped the mother and daughter in front of the husband and father. The husband and father was so traumatized that he committed suicide.”

Although few reports from ISIS-occupied Iraq can be corroborated, the group’s record of torture chambers, public executions, and crucifixions lends credibility to nightmarish accounts from the ground. Since the fall of Mosul, a litany of evils has replaced the liturgies of the Christians there: a young boy ripped from the arms of his parents as they ran from the ISIS advance and shot before their eyes, girls killed for not wearing the hijab.

Small wonder that since the fall of Mosul, tens of thousands of defenseless civilians have fled the ISIS onslaught, including the region’s Christians, whose presence on the Nineveh plains dates back to the earliest centuries of Christianity. Most have left their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Steven and his wife Babyl, two Christian refugees now living in Erbil, left their home in Hamdaniya, in the Mosul area, which ISIS plagued for years before its recent conquest. In late 2013, ISIS sent Steven a letter that threatened him with beheading unless he left the city. At first, unwilling to let extremists uproot his life, he ignored the warning. But ISIS gunmen shot at him several times, their bullets accomplishing what their letter could not: persuading Steven and his wife—then newly pregnant—to flee to Jordan.

Despite the grave risk, the young couple returned to Hamdaniya in early June. Babyl had taken ill, and Steven, unable to find work in Jordan, desperately needed money for her medical care.

Several days later ISIS conquered Mosul. For a second time, Steven and Babyl, now eight months pregnant, fled their home. Their harrowing escape to Erbil has ended in a precarious and hardscrabble existence. They fear for their unborn child, a baby girl who will be born into a family with no belongings, no money, and little food. Steven summed up the situation at the end of an email: “I just want to get out of this hell.”

This human tragedy has its foundation in political instability. The idea of Iraq was conceived of by foreign policy elite in London; the last to cling to it are the foreign policy elite in Washington. As the Obama administration and State Department scramble to save Iraq, a reality that many on the ground have known for years is coming into focus: Iraq is falling apart. In the north, Kurdistan—a nation that may not be found on any western map—holds the greatest hope for those who seek the most fundamental freedoms. Since 2003, Christians have been fleeing to Kurdistan’s Nineveh plain. The Sunni Kurds, who tend to be secular in their politics, have offered them a helping hand in recent years.

As the horrors unfolded in Iraq, back in Washington, in the briefing room of a presidential hopeful, an Iraqi bishop made a desperate plea for help via phone as a delegation of Iraqi Christians seeking greater support for the Kurds. “We have no food, no petrol, no [means] to protect ourselves. Where are America’s values? Where is our dignity?” Many in Washington are keen to see greater Kurdish autonomy, viewing them as the prudent third way between the Sunni states that have supported Islamist militants (Turkey, Saudi, Qatar) and Shia Iran and its puppets. The Kurds represent not only the best hope for an American ally in an increasingly Islamist-dominated region, but also the best hope for the survival of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.

Read full article here: Church Bells Fall Silent in Mosul as Iraq’s Christians Flee - The Daily Beast
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