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Bishop Hollis Called Upon Church Leaders To Care About Iraqi Christians

ICC Note

In his sermon, Bishop Crispin Hollis reminded church leaders about the need get awareness about the challenges faced by Iraqi Christians.

06/17/2008 Iraq ( Crispin Hollis have the following homily yesterday at the Mass for Iraqi Christians in Westminster Cathedral

One of the solemn duties that is laid on every bishop when he is ordained is that he should have “a constant care for all the churches and gladly come to the aid and support of churches in need. We do this in all sorts of ways in England and Wales , but particularly through the Department for International Affairs in the Bishops’ Conference.

At the moment, it is my privilege to head up the work of the department and it’s this responsibility which has enabled me to work in support of fellow Christians in the Middle East and in Southern Africa, especially Zimbabwe ­ a country which desperately needs our prayer and support at this time.

My most recent overseas solidarity visit was to Iraq , which is home to so many of you who have gathered here for this Mass today. Together with Bishop William Kenney, I spent some days in the north of the country at the invitation of Bishop Andreas Abouna, who will be well known to many of you following the years that he spent in London as Chaplain to the Iraqi community. Our visit ­ and his invitation ­ came hard on the heels of the tragic kidnapping and death of Archbishop Rahho of Mosul .

In this country, we may feel that we know quite a lot about the situation in Iraq but our knowledge largely stems from what we know and read about of the military activity in and around Baghdad and Basra . Only occasionally do we look further afield and it’s really only when we do that do we become aware of the ways in which the Christian community ­ your Christian community ­ is suffering and being continually harassed and threatened.

I now have some idea, albeit very superficial, of the sufferings and hardships being faced and endured by your Christian brothers and sisters ­ and they are considerable. The continuing violence in the country has seriously wounded your community in a particular way and the murder of lay people and clergy by extremists of all sorts has been both systematic and deliberately relentless.

I shall return before too long, but today, we need to pray in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Iraq ; we need to pray for peace ­ and Christ’s peace, not simply an end to hostilities ­ for your country. We need to pray for God’s blessings on all who live and suffer there and for all of you who are far from home and yet near to families and friends who live in danger and hardship. And we pray that the Lord fill us with all the blessings and graces that He promises to those who are faithful.

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