30 November 2010

Vespers Service for Catholics Massacred in Baghdad

While we were in New York a couple weeks ago for the investiture of new members into the Order of Malta we had the priviledge of attending a vespers service held at the Church of the Holy Family, the United Nations parish, to honor the victims of the recent massacre in Baghdad.  Here is a news account from  agenzia fides, the publication of the Pontifical Mission Societies.
Ambassadors and diplomats attended an Evening Prayer Service for the victims of the ferocious 31 October attack on the worshipers of Our Lady of Deliverance Syriac Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad, Iraq, that killed over 50 faithful, including 2 priests. A healthy crowd of friends and parishioners added to the number. According to information sent to Fides, the Evening Prayer Service was promoted by the Holy See Mission to the United Nations, in conjunction with the Syriac Catholic Diocese of Our Lady of Deliverance and the Archdiocese of New York and was held at New York City’s Church of the Holy Family just a block away from the United Nations, on November 12.

Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, who had been Apostolic Nuncio to Iraq and Jordan for the last four years until arriving in New York two months ago, knew quite well the priests who were murdered, Fr. Thaer Abdal and Fr. Wassim Al-Qas Boutrus, as well as other victims. “What happened on October 31st is the worst possible nightmare. And the nightmare is not over,” he said in his greeting, deploring the fact that some of the families who had already lost loved ones on that day were later victims of attacks on their homes. “The situation is intolerable,” he said.

Bishop Yousif Habash, the Syriac Catholic Bishop for the United States and Canada, and several Syriac Catholic priests, led part of the service, chanting prayers in Syriac including the “Proemion of the Martyrs.” The evening included an impassioned plea for peace and reconciliation. Archbishop Cullikatt quoted the Gospel of St. Matthew: “Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you”. He said that not only do the dead and their families need prayers, but also those assembled need to pray “so that our hearts do not grow bitter and so that we can do our share in building a world that values and promotes reconciliation, harmony, love and peace among peoples, nations and religions.” (SL) (Agenzia Fides 13/11/2010)

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Bishop Habash gave a very moving homily and I hope to obtain the text so I can put it here on my blog.

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