Category Archives: Eastern Church

Radical, Political Islamic leaders declare: “Iraq’s Christians are legitimate targets & now face the “doors of destruction”

There’s no doubt that Christians in Iraq are facing the significant trails of their lifetime. These are our brothers and sisters. Some call it a jihad against the Christian minority and others say this is an example of a more globalized efforts to squeeze out Christianity in the Middle East. The horrific attack is religiously motivated driving the Christians from the region, an ethnic cleansing. Multiple religious groups in Iraq create diversity, it creates democratic processes, no matter the size of the community.

The Islamists as a group is small, perhaps not more than 5% but they have money and are mobilized. But where is the outrage of the Islamic leaders of the reasonable sort speaking against these attacks? Barely is the media reportiing on last Sunday’s events.

Vatican Radio reported that “The victims of Sunday’s massacre in Our Lady of Salvation Church Baghdad were laid to rest Tuesday. A telegram from Pope Benedict to the leader of the Syro-Catholic Church in the Iraqi capital, Archbishop Athanase Matti Shaba Matoka, was read out to mourners during the funeral service. The Pope said ‘deeply moved by the violent death of so many faithful and their priests, Tha’ir Saad and Boutros Wasim, I wish, during the sacred funeral rite, to share spiritually in this occasion and pray that these our brothers and sisters are welcomed by the mercy of Christ into the Father’s House.for years this country has been suffering untold hardships and even Christians have become the subject of brutal attacks that, in total disregard of life – an inviolable gift from God – want to undermine confidence and peace. I renew my call that the sacrifice of our brothers and sisters may be the seed of peace and true rebirth, and that those who care about reconciliation, solidarity and fraternal coexistence, find the strength and motivation to do good.'”

Additionally, Asia News reported, “The so-called ‘War Department’ of the ‘Islamic State of Iraq’ (ISI) al-Qaeda in Iraq issued a statement on the Web to announce that the passing of the deadline of its ‘ultimatum’ to the Egyptian Coptic Church to release two Egyptian women, Camilia Cheh and Wafa Constantine, wives of Coptic priests, whom according to the terrorists are detained against their will in a convent after converting to Islam. Their conversion has been denied by all the Islamic religious authorities in Egypt, and the Muslim Brotherhood have harshly attacked the authors of the massacre in Baghdad. Al-Qaeda, however, confirms that all Christians and their churches have become “legitimate targets” of the terrorist group and are therefore are in danger. The message issued today by the Iraqi cell of al-Qaeda also makes explicit reference to the Vatican.”

Further, “While confirming its desire to attack the Christians, the terrorists say they want to give one more chance to the Catholics of the Church of Rome. They claim that ‘the War Office of the Islamic State of Iraq’ announced that starting today all the churches and Christian organizations and their leaders are a legitimate target for mujahedeen. These politicians and their bosses in the Vatican should know that the sword will not fall on the heads of their followers if they proclaim their innocence, and distance themselves from what has been done by the Egyptian Church. Al-Qaeda calls on Catholics to ‘send a clear signal to the mujahedeen of their effort to put pressure on the Egyptian Church in order to obtain the release of two women, their prisoners.'”

Martin Chulov of the Guardian in Britain, wrote “Resurgent al-Qaida threatens Christians in Iraq with ‘destruction”:  “Al-Qaida in Iraq has threatened more attacks on Iraq’s Christians, claiming that they are legitimate targets who now face the ‘doors of destruction.’ The warning, published today on militant websites, came three days after gunmen from an al-Qaida front group, the Islamic State of Iraq, raided one of Baghdad’s main cathedrals during Sunday mass. More than 50 people were killed and dozens were wounded when Iraqi forces stormed the church in an attempt to lift the four-hour siege. In its statement, ISI described the pope as ‘the hallucinating tyrant of the Vatican’ and warned that Christians would be ‘extirpated and dispersed’ from Iraq. ‘All Christian centers, organizations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the muhajideen wherever they can reach them… We will open upon them the doors of destruction and rivers of blood.'”

Pope prays for Iraq’s true re-birth

Since Sunday how could our hearts not be moved by the dirty killing of 58 and wounding of countless others in Our Lady of Salvation Church (a Syrian Catholic Church in Baghdad)? How could we not have heavy hearts and mournful spirits at the news of villainous actions toward others, especially those at prayer? Our brothers and sisters in the faith, among them 2 priests –who brought Christ to us– were bruttally murdered by Muslim extremists.

We pray for the eternal rest of the dead, healing of the ill and forgiveness of the perpetrators. That’s what the Lord would do, I am convinced. This is what we are asked to do by the Pope. Indeed, we pray for peace and re-birth in Christ.

Let’s pray for Chaldean Cardinal and Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly, the other bishops of Iraq with the priests, deacons, sub-deacons and laity.

The Holy Father has spoken out in the last days and he does so again. Read his remarks here.

Catholics killed by Al Qaeda Muslims

Catholics in Our
Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad were held hostage and some killed and
wounded by a group of Al Qaeda militants. The siege tragically ended in death
when Iraqi security forces raided the church in order to free the faithful
being held inside.

During his All Saints Angelus address today in Rome, Pope
Benedict said, “Last night, in a very serious attack on the Syrian Catholic
Cathedral in Baghdad, dozens of people were killed and wounded, including two
priests and a group of faithful gathered for Sunday Mass.”

Benedict continued, “I
pray for the victims of this senseless violence, all the more ferocious as it
affected defenseless civilians, this closeness to the martyred Christian
community, targeted yet again by terrorists, and encouraged all pastors and
faithful to be strong and firm in hope.”

“Faced with the brutal violence that
continues to tear the peoples of the Middle East apart,” Pope Benedict ended the Angelus talk by saying: “I renew
my appeal for peace: it is God’s gift
, but it is also the result of the efforts
of men of good will, national and international institutions. We must all join
forces to ensure an end to all violence!”

7 killed, many more wounded in Syrian Catholic Church, Baghdad

The Church in Baghdad has faced another crisis with the murder of 7 and wounding of many more during the Divine Liturgy in Baghdad today. Reports seem to conflict: as many as 47 are reported dead including 2 priests.

Synod of Bishops for the Middle East submit propositions to Pope for his consideration

eastern bishops.jpgThe bishops at the Synod of Bishops for the Middle
have given the Holy Father the following propositions for his
consideration and perhaps for him to act on when he issues a post-synodal
document. The Synod is now closed and the bishops are on their way home and now it’s time for the Pope and his consultors to do some heavy lifting. The publication of the propositions was approved by the Pope, though they remain unofficial. Some of the propositions are formal, pro-forma and many are so boring
that watching the grass grow is fun.

There’s a lot boiler
plate or what I take to be normal, e.g., financial transparency, providing
information in Arabic, being hospitable to immigrants, listening to youth, etc.
Also, what’ve given here you can get a sense of what the churches face in their
situation. What’s evident to a Westerner is that our context in North America is a bit
more advanced, dare I say, than the situation many Middle Eastern Christians face. We already have experience of good
education, dialogue, fruitful collaboration with other faiths, developed
canonical processes. The propositions do raise the point of concern for our sisters and brothers who are Christians in the Middle East.

What is missing is the
consideration for a common date for Easter and a better awareness of the role
of the sacred Liturgy in the life of the churches.

The list of the 44 propositions given to the Pope are listed here.
You can follow the entire Synod here.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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