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Autumn, 2014
Volume 40, Number 3
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In this 1996 image, children attend a festival in New York celebrating Greek heritage. (photo: Karen Lagerquist)
  
16 August 2011

Details at Vatican Radio:

Another church has been attacked in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. The bombing comes less than two weeks after a Catholic and an evangelical church were targeted. This latest attack on St. Ephrem’s Syriac Orthodox Church happened yesterday while security staff spotted a vehicle carrying suspicious devices.

The parish priest escaped without injury. ...

Speaking to Lydia O’Kane, [John Pontifex, Head of Press and Information at Aid to the Church in Need, says] that the government authorities have promised to increase police protection around churches and will fund a rebuilding project around the latest church to be attacked. But John Pontifex says that the real question about “long term” reassurance of protection is not being answered.

The article can be viewed at Vatican Radio, complete with the recording of the full broadcast audio.

Rev. Dr. Elias Mallon, S.A., CNEWA’s Education and Interreligious Affairs Officer, reflects upon this event, as well as the larger trend of violence pervading the region:

Violence against Christians and the bombing of Christian Churches in certain Muslim countries is cowardly and criminal activity which must be stopped immediately.

However, we Christians are challenged by Paul’s command “Never repay evil with evil, but let everyone see that you are concerned only with that which is good” (Romans 12:17). In suffering persecution we must never lose sight of the sufferings of others. Christians who live in the Middle East remind us that it is not only Christians who suffer from the violence of extremism. In fact, the majority of victims of Islamic extremism are other Muslims. On the same day that the Church of Mar Ephraim was bombed over three dozen Iraqis were killed by a terrorist bomb in a market in Kut, Iraq; six were killed by a suicide bomber in Tikrit, Iraq; and seven Shi’ites were killed in the Shi’ite holy city of Najaf in Iraq.

These terrorist attacks against Muslims took place during Ramadan, the holiest month of the Muslim calendar. All attacks against innocent lives are an abomination against God. Attacks against innocent people during holy times such as Ramadan, Christmas and Easter is a “spreading of evil in the land” which the Qur’an condemns and which every person of good will considers an offense against God and humanity, regardless of the faith of the victim.



Tags: Iraq Middle East Christians Middle East Violence against Christians