The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

The thoughts expressed here are my personal thoughts and sometimes reflect my political views. As a private citizen I have every right to express these views.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Massacre of Catholics by Muslim Extremists in Baghdad

Talk about timing...and in this instance, very bad timing.. Yesterday I devoted my brief post to the continued persecution of Christians throughout the world, and this morning I awoke to discover that Muslim extremists -- homicide bombers -- had attacked Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church in Baghdad Sunday leaving more than 50 people dead, including the priest who was about to celebrate Mass at the time.

Our Lady of Salvation Syrian Catholic Church in Baghdad after the attack
According to reports, the extremists entered the church's sanctuary and immediately killed the priest. They then held upwards of 120 worshipers for four hours, at which time Iraqi security forces stormed the church. In the ensuing clash the terrorists set off their explosive vests, killing dozens of worshipers and severely wounding many others.

According to the BBC, "The gunmen had reportedly demanded the release of jailed al-Qaeda militants. A statement was posted on a militant website allegedly run by the Islamic State of Iraq, a Sunni militant umbrella group to which al-Qaeda in Iraq belongs, claiming responsibility for the attack. The statement reportedly said Iraqi Christians would be 'exterminated' if Muslim women in Egypt were not freed. It specifically mentioned two women in Egypt who radicals believe are being held against their will after converting to Islam."

The two women, who remain in hiding, have stated that they never converted, but had always been Christians. Of course, that shouldn't matter since everyone should be able to exercise religious freedom. It would seem that these extremists have their own unique approach to evangelization: "Believe what we believe, or we will kill you."

Speaking to pilgrims gathered for his All Saints' Day blessing, Pope Benedict XVI denounced the violence, and said that two priests had died in the attack. It's not certain whether both were killed during the initial violence or when the church was stormed later by security forces.The pope went on to tell the pilgrims that "I pray for the victims of this senseless violence, made even more ferocious because it struck defenseless people who were gathered in the house of God, which is a house of love and reconciliation."

This is just one more in a long series of attacks on Catholic churches in Iraq. Many churches have been bombed, including Our Lady of Salvation, and the attacks seem to be accelerating in both frequency and intensity. This pattern of overt anti-Christian violence is also one of the most under-reported stories. You certainly won't find it addressed in any serious way by the mainstream media. And yet how courageous are these Iraqi brothers and sisters of ours who persevere in their faith despite this kind of horrific violence. Pray for them.
To read more, click here: Catholics Killed at Mass in Iraq.

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