This has been a difficult summer across the globe – in addition to ongoing unrest in Israel and Palestine, and the shooting down of a passenger airplane over Ukraine, a couple of weeks ago, we saw the expulsion of Christians from their homes in Mosul, Iraq. At that time, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged the U.S. government to take action to help these beleaguered people. Since then, the situation has only gotten worse.
In recent days, militants have captured the ancient Christian village of Qaraqoush and other Christian towns on the plain of Nineveh in Iraq. Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Baghdad, Louis Raphael I Sako, tells of a humanitarian catastrophe, with tens of thousands being forced to flee, the sick, the elderly, infants and pregnant women among them. “We appeal with sadness and pain to the conscience of all,” he said recently, imploring “all people of good will and the United Nations and the European Union, to save these innocent people from death. We hope it’s not too late!”
On behalf of the entire Church, Pope Francis has urgently called on the international community to protect all those affected or threatened by the violence, and to guarantee all necessary assistance to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes. Their fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others.
In addition, the bishops of the United States have joined our Holy Father in making an impassioned appeal that the whole Church and all the faithful raise up with one voice a ceaseless prayer, imploring the Holy Spirit to send the gift of peace. There will be a special day of prayer in the dioceses of the United States on August 17. Joining with the whole Church, praying with one voice a prayer composed by Patriarch Sako, let us pray for peace in the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The plight of [the people of Iraq]
is deep and the suffering of Christians
is severe and frightening.
Therefore, we ask you Lord
to spare [their] lives, and to grant [them] patience,
and courage to continue [their] witness of Christian values
with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us all the peace and stability that will enable us
to live with each other without fear and anxiety,
and with dignity and joy.
Glory be to you forever. Amen.