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Tuesday, 29 July 2014


Vatican City, 28 July 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday, Sunday, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, presided at the Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of St. Paul the Apostle of the Chaldeans in San Diego, U.S.A. He prayed for the Christians persecuted in Iraq, the motherland of the Chaldean Church, and also included in his prayer those in Syria, Palestine and Egypt, as well as those who belong to the Greek-Catholic community in Ukraine, who are currently experiencing difficult situations.

The bishop of the eparchy, Sarhad Yawsip Hermiz Jammo, thanked the cardinal for the consolation that his visit and his prayers, as the representative of Pope Francis, offered to al the Christians of the East, and added that, in communion with Peter's Successor, they would persist in the faith of Abraham and, like the patriarch, they would prepare to leave for the land God will show to them, learning to read history in a higher dimension.

In his homily, Cardinal Sandri thanked those present and those Christians who suffer for their faith in the Gospel in situations of conflict, and assured them of Pope Francis' prayers and blessing and the closeness of all the Church. He expressed his hope for peace and justice for all those who have been afflicted by incredible and senseless violence.

The prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, in his visit to California, met with the Maronite and Syro-Malabar communities of Los Angeles and San Diego. During the coming days he will visit the Armenians and greet the priests of the Syrian, Coptic, Greek-Melkite and Romanian Greek-Catholic Churches who exercise their pastoral ministry in this region of the United States. The already populous Eastern is expected to increase significantly, especially from Iraq, due to the current conflict. He underlined that immigration is a pastoral challenge of historical proportions, and requires great efforts on the part of the Latin Church in support of the Oriental Churches.

Source: Vis: Vatican Information Service

Here is Cardinal Sandri's homily:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I felt compelled to be here today, joining this Christian Diaspora to pray in union with Pope Francis, for the Oriental Churches in these difficult days. His Holiness contacted by phone both the Chaldean and Syriac Patriarchs encouraging all Christians of Iraq and Syria to persevere strong in faith and hope. And so, we are gathered with Mar Sarhad Jammo, Bishop of this Eparchy of Saint Peter the Apostle in San Diego, Mar Bawai Soro, titular Bishop of Foraziana his Protosyncellus, Mar Elias Zaidan, Maronite Bishop of Los Angeles, and all the faithful, especially Chaldean and Syriac of California, to proclaim that the Crucified Lord has risen, and He is always with us, despite all tribulations of history. With the same hope our hearts go to Palestinian, Egyptian and Ukrainian Christians who are also enduring violent conflicts.

The readings of the Chaldean Liturgy of this Sunday sound as if they were written for those suffering communities: “Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened, that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again” (2 Cor 1,9-10).

These words, filled with hope, bestow on us a heavenly consolation, which we pray it reaches the souls of those in a so cruel distress.

I recall with you the psalm: “by the rivers of Babylon we sat in tears” (137,1) …without songs of joy.. And today, two thousands years later, we wonder in pain: will there be no more joyful songs of the Christian liturgy in Mosul? Should our harps, hung on the trees of that beautiful land, wait too long before they resound again?

But, we believe that the harp of the Holy Spirit resounds the praise of a resurrected Lord while the powers of death pretend to have the final word on history!

Today’s gospel compares the salvation of mankind to a wedding feast, fulfilled in Jesus Christ. We are confident that, despite our sinfulness, the Divine Bridegroom, in his mercy, will welcome and wait on us in the Eternal Jerusalem, his Bride.

But also the future of Mankind is foreseen as a nuptial feast, at which all human beings must take part. As we gaze at such a beautiful future of humanity, we wonder whether there will be a place for Christians of Iraq, Syria and Palestine to celebrate their wedding feasts. Accordingly, there will be no future, no wedding, and no feast in the Middle East without the presence and the contribution of Christians.

In fact, Patriarch Louis Sako said that "for the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians…but the blood of Christians has been mixed with that of Muslims, as it was shed in the defense of their rights and lands. Together they built a civilization, cities, and a heritage. It is truly unjust now to treat Christians by rejecting them and throwing them away, considering them as nothing… It is obvious that this would have disastrous consequences on the coexistence between the majority and the minorities, even among Muslims themselves, in the near and long term. Hence, Iraq is heading to a humanitarian, cultural, and historical disaster”.

As an echo of this claim, a civil personality adds speaking about Christian and Muslims in Iraq: “We will all either die together or we will live together with dignity".

Also, the Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai has called for dialogue telling those who are persecuting Christians: “Humanity is the only thing we share with you. Come let’s talk and reach an understanding on this basis” And he asked: “What have the Christians in Mosul and Iraq done in order for them to be treated with such hatred and abuse? You rely on the language of arms, terrorism, violence and influence, but we rely on the language of dialogue, understanding and respect for others”.

Those Christians are seen as the blind, the crippled, the lame, and the poor who had no place at the wedding banquet of History. But Christ addresses his invitation to these specific categories of people, with whom he intends to build the future of humanity. We, Christians of the world, must be their voice and strongly defend their rights.

No religion can accept to kill God’s children in the Name of the same God.

Now we offer for the Oriental Christians the silence of our prayer, that is not similar to that of the indifference, because it takes vigor from the silence of Christ on the cross that was full of eternal love. And nothing shall separate us from that love, nor life nor death! (cf Rom 8,38-39).

Although they may not be capable of repaying us, we will be repaid by the Lord Himself for our prayers, solidarity and charity at the resurrection of the righteous.

In that day we could understand the promise of Christ: “…all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Lc 14,11) which is so true for the persecuted Christians.

May the Most Blessed Mother of God, the Apostles and all the Martyrs of the Oriental Churches of the past and of the present intercede to God on behalf of those brothers and sisters. Amen.

Source: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2014/07/28/cardinal_sandri_no_religion_can_kill_in_the_name_of_god/1103554

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