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Monday, October 6, 2014

Christians in the Middle East: the Church cannot remain silent before the persecution of her children

Vatican City, 4 October 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Pauline Chapel Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin celebrated Holy Mass for the papal representatives in the Middle East at the end of the meeting convoked at the behest of the Holy Father, dedicated to the situation faced by Christians in the region. Extensive extracts from his homily are published below:

“Today we celebrate this Holy Eucharist with concern for what is happening in various countries in the Middle East. We are profoundly troubled to see the growing threats to peace and disturbed by the conditions in which Christian communities live in the territories from Syria to Iraq, controlled by an entity that disregards rights and adopts terrorist methods to increase its power”.

“Such communities, which inhabit these lands since apostolic times, therefore find themselves facing situations of grave danger and open persecution, and are frequently forced to abandon everything and flee from their homes and their country. It is sad to note how persistent and active the forces of evil are, and how in some corrupt minds the conviction has taken hold that violence and terror are methods that can be used to impose one's will for power over others, under the pretext of affirming a specific religious concept. It is clearly a perversion of authentic religious meaning, with dramatic results and to which it is necessary to respond. The Church cannot remain silent before the persecution of her sons and daughters, and the international community cannot remain neutral between victims and the aggressor”.

“'Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge'. Thus the psalmist prays. He, who was no stranger to difficulty and violent adversaries, confidently turns to the Lord. The wicked and their machinations do not frighten him, because his life is in the Lord's hands. He knows that his true strength and safety is the Lord Who gives him peace and joy and Who prepares a definitive and joyful future. … It is the joy of every faithful Christian who knows that History is led by Providence and that the forces of evil shall not prevail”.

“This certainty that we rejoice in, far from leaving us as idle or inert spectators, encourages us as individuals and as a Christian community, as Church, in constant and trusting prayer and urges us to put into effect all those concrete initiatives that help influence governments and public opinion. Nothing must be neglected that it may be possible to do to alleviate the suffering of our brethren in need and to stop the aggressors. Providence wishes also to make use of us, of our freedom and our industriousness, our initiative and our daily efforts”.

“Persecuted Christians and all those who suffer unjustly must be able to recognise that the Church is the institution that defends them, that prays and acts for them, that is not afraid of stating the truth, becoming the word for those without a voice, defence and support for those who are abandoned, who seek refuge, who are discriminated against. Indeed, everything depends on God and His Grace, but it is necessary to act as if it all depended on us, on our prayer and our solidarity”.

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