RU 04/2011 - The Carmel of Baghdad
IRAQ (ru, January 31st, 2011) – The association UNEC just transferred the sum of 3400 Euro to the Carmel of Baghdad, collected between its members and friends in France and Germany, in order to come to help to the Iraqian Catholics who are so atrociously persecuted by Islam (carnage in the cathedral of Baghdad of October 31st, 2010: 53 dead of whom 2 priests, and 70 wounded). Here are some extracts from the return letter to UNEC, from the Rev. Fr. Provincial of the Carmel (translated from French):
"Returning from a stay in our mission of Baghdad (from January 4th to 12th, 2011), I give you some news of our brothers and of the Christians of this country, knowing how warmly you are keeping them in your prayers… The initial goal of this trip was to continue our assistance to this small community of Carmel priests and brothers, who are so isolated by the fact of their remoteness. The dramatic events since my previous stay gave to this visit a crucial importance. I therefore met the emphasis on the dialog with the Brothers. The determination of our Brothers to remain in Baghdad is clear, while retaining the possibility of a common refuge to Kurdistan in cases of serious threat, or for apostolic stays. It is agreed that the Brothers will not get separated. This seemed fair to me, because leaving Baghdad would be a resignation, all the more that it seems possible to remain there, under the condition of real caution.
One of the new weapons of the Islamic fundamentalists consists of bombs with magnetic elements allowing to be fixed very quickly under a car. The vehicles identified as belonging to Christians are particularly aimed at. It is therefore not possible to leave a car outside without supervision. The Brothers have undertaken to visit the Christian families of the neighbourhood for support, and to see what are their spiritual and material needs. Father prior has had to reduce the pastoral ministry at the Saint Joseph Centre in Baghdad for security reasons, but he hopes to be able to resume gradually…
I also met with the new apostolic nuncio, Monsignor Giorgio Lingo... As he arrived only recently to Iraq, he discovers his mission in a context which is particularly stressful. Reinforced by the persistence of the clergy, he can however only regret the strong emigration of Christians who further intensified with the recent events.
Attacks on Christians in their home are causing increased anxiousness. I could have a direct resonance of this during the celebration of Epiphany on January 6th with the members of the groups which are animated by our Brothers. The mass was followed by an exchange with some fifty persons present who were able to express what kind of existence they are living since the attack of the Cathedral. A young person testified that a bomb had been placed before his house, the previous week. There has been considerable material damage but no physical damage. However, he took his little sister to the hospital, because under the shock she was seized by a nervous crisis. When the family returned, they found their house looted. Despite this climate of great anxiety, several people expressed how this test led them to live their faith in a more radical way, in a deeper communion with Christ. One believer said that there is no other way out than pardoning them!
Now we have to restore the annex buildings to the convent in order to have rooms for catechism, as well as a possible accommodation for the community of the Carmel Saint Joseph. The latter, for the time being, is renting a house from a Muslim. Among the reasons for thanksgiving, is the maintenance of the project of the foundation of a new Carmel monastery by the Sisters in Bagdad. They had cancelled their arrival in November following the attack, but they will come shortly a few weeks to Baghdad in order to prepare their permanent installation. It is therefore in a climate of hope and confidence in the future of this country and of the Christian presence that the Brothers continue their way. »
On the Internet site of the embassy of France in Iraq (www.ambafrance-iq.org) you can see pictures of the recent visit of the young Ambassador of France with the “Brothers of the Carmel" in Baghdad. There you see also the beautiful church of their monastery where currently 50 faithful still dare to attend mass on Sundays (before the attacks: 300). They are living martyrs, let’s pray for them! Let’s be like them!
- O.A.M.D.G. –