You are in the heart of the Church; she suffers with you and is proud of you; you are her strength and the concrete and authentic witnesses to her message of salvation, forgiveness and love. The Lord bless you and protect you!As I read his words I could not help but wonder who the Church suffers with - and for - the Iraqi Christians. Pope Francis has repeatedly called us to pray for the Christians of Iraq - and for all those suffering persecution because of their faith - and to do what we can to help them.
For some, that will involve daily or weekly fasting; embracing the inconveniences and frustrations of life for them; learning more about their sufferings; forgoing television or some other simple pleasure. The list could go on and on. For others, however, it will also involve a financial contribution to help meet their needs for sustenance, clothing, and shelter.
His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales recently wrote to His Beatitude Louis Raphael I Sako, Patriarch of Baghdad, to express, in his words, "how heartbroken I am to hear of the truly unbearable and barbaric persecution being suffering not only by the Christians in Iraq, but also by some of their neighbors of other faiths, alongside whom they have lived for hundreds of years." I ask you: Are you heartbroken yet over their horrendous suffering? Has your heart ached at the news of public beheadings and crucifixions? Is your heart rent over the rape and forced marriages of girls and young women? If not, it may be time to pay more attention to the great evil presently being committed in Iraq and around the world.
Prince Charles included with his letter to Patriarch Sako a contribution through Aid to the Church in Need, a papal foundation which provides assistance to persecuted Christians. I humbly ask you to do the same as a sign of your solidarity with them and as a way of suffering with - and for - them.
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