VIOLENCE IS NOT OVERCOME BY VIOLENCE BUT BY PEACE - IRAQ IS "HEADING TOWARDS HUMANITARIAN, CULTURAL, AND HISTORICAL DISASTER - POPE TO CATHOLICS ACROSS BRITAIN AND IRELAND: PROTECT AND CHERISH LIFE
Monday, July 21, 2014
Along with important statements about and from Iraq by Pope Francis and Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako over the weekend, I include Pope Francis Message Catholics of Britain and Ireland for the annual Day for Life, that takes place this year on July 27. There was enough news over the weekend, from the Vatican and around the world Israel, Gaza, Ukraine, Russia - to create a major volume!

VIOLENCE IS NOT OVERCOME BY VIOLENCE BUT BY PEACE

Pope Francis on Sunday at the Angelus highlighted his concern for the worsening situation in Iraq, especially underscoring the plight of persecuted Christians who have lived here since the dawn of Christianity. I have learned with concern, he said, the news coming from the Christian community in Mosul, Iraq and in other parts of the Middle East where, from the very beginning of Christianity, they have lived with their fellow citizens, offering a significant contribution to the good of society.

Today our brothers are persecuted, said the Holy Father. They are banished from their homes and forced to flee without even being able to take their belongings! He assured the Christians of his closeness and constant prayer: My dear brothers and sisters who are persecuted, I know how much you suffer; I know that you are deprived of all. I am with you in faith in He who conquered evil.

Francis invited the faithful who had gathered in St. Peters Square to pray the Angelus with him, to remember their fellow Christians in prayer and he urged them to persevere in prayer for situations of tension and conflict that persist in different parts of the world, especially in the Middle East and Ukraine. May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence will not be overcome with violence. Violence is overcome with peace!

The Holy Father then asked for a moment of silence so that all could pray for peace. Madonna, Queen of Peace, pray for us, he said at the end. He asked the faithful, as he usually does at the Angelus, Please don't forget to pray for me. I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!

IRAQ IS "HEADING TOWARDS HUMANITARIAN, CULTURAL, AND HISTORICAL DISASTER

It is shameful that Christians are being rejected, expelled and diminished, writes Patriarch Louis Raphal I Sako, leader of the Chaldean Catholic Church, in a letter addressed to people of good-will across Iraqs multi-religious, multi-ethnic society ahead of an Islamist deadline to minorities in Mosul to submit to Islam, their rule or die.

A Vatican Radio report noted that, during his Sunday Angelus Pope Francis told the persecuted Christians of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul that he was with them in solidarity and appealed for aid for these people who have been stripped of everything.

Thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled Mosul to Sunni Kurdish areas up north after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threatened to kill them if they don't convert to Islam or pay a tax. Extremists of the al-Qaeda-inspired group began implementing their threats by burning an 1800-year-old church in the city.

Yet, in what Patriarch Sako described as a sign of hope, Muslims from the capital Baghdad reached out in solidarity to their Christian brothers and sisters, joining them at the end of Mass on Sunday for a special service in the Church of Mar Girgis. Many bore signs that read, I am an Iraqi Christian.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says that the persecution of Iraqi Christians who have been driven from their homes in Mosul could constitute a crime against humanity. In his letter Patriarch Sako writes: 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.

Following is a translation of the text of Patriarch Sakos letter:

To the people of conscience and good will in Iraq and the world, To the voice of the moderates, our Muslim brothers and sisters in Iraq and the world, To all concerned about the continuation of Iraq as a nation for all its citizens, To all leaders, thinkers, and human rights activists, To all defenders of the dignity of the human person and the freedom of religions,

Peace and God's Mercy!

The takeover by the Islamist jihadists of Mosul and their announcement of an Islamic state, after days of composure and anticipation, the situation turned negative on the Christians of the city and surrounding areas. The first signs of this reversal were the kidnapping of two nuns and three orphans, who were released after 17 days, We were encouraged by this development and we considered it a glimmer of hope, and a breakthrough, only to be surprised by the latest developments: the Islamic state issued a statement calling on Christians openly to convert to Islam and either pay Jizya without specifying a ceiling, or leave their city and their homes, with their clothes only, without any luggage, and it issued a fatwa that the homes will become the property of the Islamic state. They have marked the letter N on the homes of Christians for Nazarenes!!! As they have marked on the homes of Shiites with the letter (R) for Rejectors. Who knows what coming days hold as the law of the Islamic state is based on what they claim to be the Sharia law, including the redefinition of identities on the basis of religion and sectarianism.

These requirements offend Muslims and the reputation of Islam, which says you have your religion and we have ours, and There is no compulsion in religion. It is in contradiction of 1400 years of history and a lifetime of the Islamic world and coexistence with different religions and different peoples, east and west, respecting their beliefs and living in fraternity. Christians, in particular in our East, and since the advent of Islam have shared together sweet and bitter memories, their blood mixed in defense of their rights and their land, and together they built, cities, civilization and heritage. It is shameful that Christians are being rejected, expelled and diminished. 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.

Therefore we call upon them, a warm, brotherly, urgent and serious call, and we appeal to our fellow Iraqis who support them to reconsider their strategy, and respect the unarmed innocent people, of all ethnicities, religions and sects. The Quran commands respect for the innocent, and does not call for the forcible seizure of peoples property. It calls for helping the widow, the orphan, the destitute and the defenseless, and even recommends helping the seventh neighbor. We also call on Christians in the region to adopt rationality and acumen, and calculate their options well and understand what is planned for the area, and come together in love and think through together and, in solidarity, to build confidence in themselves and their neighbors, gathering around their church, being patient, enduring and praying until the storm passes.

+ Louis Raphael I Sako Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church

POPE TO CATHOLICS ACROSS BRITAIN AND IRELAND: PROTECT AND CHERISH LIFE

In a special message to Catholics across Britain and Ireland for the annual Day for Life, Pope Francis invites young Catholics in particular to work to ensure adequate legal protection for the fundamental human right to life.The Pope also asks British and Irish Catholics to bring the merciful love of Christ as a life-giving balm to those troubling new forms of poverty and vulnerability increasingly evident in contemporary society (cf. Evangelii Gaudium 210).

A statement from the Catholic Bishops Conference notes that over half-a-million postcards have been sent to parishes in England and Wales in readiness for Day for Life Sunday, 27 July. The theme this year is #livelife Protect and Cherish Life from its beginning to its natural end. It invites young people in particular to get involved in caring for, nurturing and protecting life at every stage and in every condition.

The Message, in the Popes name, was signed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of State. In it, the Holy Father expresses his confidence that this annual witness to the sanctity of Gods gift of life will inspire the faithful, and young Catholics in particular, to combat the culture of death, not only by working to ensure adequate legal protection for the fundamental human right to life, but also by seeking to bring the merciful love of Christ as a life-giving balm to those troubling new forms of poverty and vulnerability that are increasingly evident in contemporary society.

This special day is celebrated yearly by the Catholic Church in Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. The proceeds of the Day for Life collection to be held in parishes in England and Wales on Sunday 27 July 2014 assist the work of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre and other life-related activities supported by the Church.

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