“This gives us more strength,” said Sama Wadie, 32, a teacher, his hand wrapped in a bandage. “We’re not afraid of death because Jesus died for us. Of course we cry, but they’re tears of happiness, because we die for God.”
One week ago Our Lady of Salvation, a Syrian Catholic church, was the scene of the worst attack on Iraqi Christians since the American-led invasion in 2003. Gunmen in explosive suicide vests jumped the church’s security wall and took more than 100 worshipers hostage, identifying themselves as members of the Islamic State of Iraq, a Qaeda-linked terrorist group. It began a night of bloodshed in which 51 worshipers and two priests were killed. The terrorist group promised more attacks, declaring Christians everywhere “legitimate targets.”
On Sunday the congregation filed into a sanctuary riddled with bullet holes, with bloodstains on the 30-foot-high ceiling from the blast of a suicide vest that left six ornate crystal chandeliers eerily undamaged. In place of the scarred pews was a giant cross on the floor outlined in candles and filled with 51 sheets of paper, each bearing the name of one of the dead.
Allison @ Why I Am Catholic writes:
This morning, Maria Teresa Landi, friend of a friend, came up with an extraordinary idea: send letters of encouragement to the Christians of Baghdad, who are suffering horrible persecution and killings. They are the Church's modern-day martyrs.
By day's end, the Nuncio at the United Nations was offering his diplomatic pouch (direct mail). He proposed to have all letters and messages sent to him by Tuesday night in a package and he will send the package to the Nunciature in Iraq on Wednesday morning.
Please address your emails to the families to His Beatitude Emmanuel Delli, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Baghdad at firstname.lastname@example.org. He will print out the emails and put them in the pouch.
- Regular news on the plight of Christians in Iraq, see Baghdadhope [Translated from Italian]
- Echoes From Crucified Iraq: Voices of Hope, Voice of Faith, Voices of Love, by Robert Cheaib. Zenit. November 15, 2010.
- Iraqi Christians Victims of "Unprecedented Ferocity": Bishop Laments Western Misunderstanding; Urges Courage, by Tony Assaf. Zenit. November 12, 2010.
- We Are the Christians of Iraq: Letter of an Iraqi Priest to His Wounded Country by Father Albert Hisham Naoum. November 11, 2010.