Massacre of Catholic Christians at the Syrian Catholic Church of Our Lady of Deliverance in Baghdad.
Declaration of condemnation of the Bishops of Holy Land
With profound sadness we received the news of the brutal massacre that targeted hundreds of Christians during the Divine Mass at the Syrian Catholic Church of Our Lady of Deliverance in Baghdad last Sunday (October 31, 2010). Almost 60 martyrs, including priests, men, women and children died and others were wounded, some gravely now hovering between life and death.
Words of distress, condemnation and incrimination are no longer enough in the face of the horror that is taking place repeatedly in Iraq, especially with regard to Christians over the past years and which reached a pinnacle of savage insanity with the massacre on Sunday. Before all else, we want to come and pray in reverence and incline ourselves before the bodies of these heroic martyrs, the sufferings of the innocent wounded, the pain of the relatives of the victims and the injured. We ask Christ our Lord to receive in the glory of His love this new convoy of heroic martyrs, who join the millions who went before them, from the days of Saint Stephen until today.
We ask Him in His tenderness to take care of the pain of the wounded, to lessen their suffering and grant them full healing quickly. Likewise, we pray fervently to our Lord Jesus, hearing the anguish of the widows, the orphans and the survivors, for the families, friends and all the loved ones who lost those they loved. “May He wipe the tears from every face”. We ask the Virgin, Our Lady of Deliverance, that she might pour out her solace into their hearts, that she might grant them the courage to remain stronger than the trial they face, just as she remained standing by the Cross, her strength and her faith never faltering.
The Church of the Holy Land, reaching out to her sister in Iraq, appeals to the conscience of each and every one in authority there, starting with the Iraqi government, to be vigilant in protecting all her citizens, especially those who have no protection, those who have no weapons and no militias, their only guilt being that they maintain their faith, in the land of their fathers and grandfathers. This land is their land since time immemorial, they have sacrificed in its service, contributed to its flourishing, and defended it with everything they have. The time has come for those who are responsible to own up to their responsibility, to stand up to those who have lost any sense of humanity, curbing their insatiable thirst for blood and reckoning with and punishing anyone who plans or carries out such criminal acts.
We appeal also to the conscience of every Arab and Muslim in responsibility, by means of the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, to the conscience of every one who has a sense of being human, through the United Nations and the Security Council, that, before it is too late, they would warn of the danger of those who seek to exploit religions for the purpose of a clash of civilizations or of nations because this strategy could turn into wars of extermination of everyone, God forbid.
We again offer our earnest condolences to all our brothers, whose sufferings are calamitous, and to the entire Iraqi people, Christians and Muslims, worn out by the wounds of a long war. We address all our children in the Holy Land, priests, men and women religious, laity, our parishes, convents, religious institutions in all their diversity, that they make next Friday, Saturday and Sunday (5, 6 and 7 November) three days of solidarity with the suffering Church of Iraq, days of prayer for the souls of the martyrs, petition for the healing of the wounded, solace for the mourners and intercession for the strengthening of the faith of the believers and for their perseverance. “Do not be afraid small flock… I do not leave you orphans… I am with you until the end of time.”
Our mission, as it was also expressed in the Synod for the Middle East two weeks ago is that we live Communion and Witness, that we work together, Christians and Muslims, in the building up and awakening of our countries and our peoples, investing effort together in the establishment of peace and stability, on the basis of mutual trust, radiating the values of justice and dignity, freedom of conscience and expression, respecting the human rights of every individual because he/she is the image and the likeness of God and is His vicar on earth.
The Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land