24 December 2015

President Obama invites prayers for persecuted Christians, Bishop Paprocki calls it "helpful"

Yesterday, the President of the United States of America issued a statement that I found striking both because of it's overt Christian language and because President Obama explicitly called for prayers for the Christians suffering under the Islamic State by a moving and poetic reference to silent bells.

Here follows the brief statement, in full:
During this season of Advent, Christians in the United States and around the world are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  At this time, those of us fortunate enough to live in countries that honor the birthright of all people to practice their faith freely give thanks for that blessing.  Michelle and I are also ever-mindful that many of our fellow Christians do not enjoy that right, and hold especially close to our hearts and minds those who have been driven from their ancient homelands by unspeakable violence and persecution.

In some areas of the Middle East where church bells have rung for centuries on Christmas Day, this year they will be silent; this silence bears tragic witness to the brutal atrocities committed against these communities by ISIL. 

We join with people around the world in praying for God’s protection for persecuted Christians and those of other faiths, as well as for those brave men and women engaged in our military, diplomatic, and humanitarian efforts to alleviate their suffering and restore stability, security, and hope to their nations.  As the old Christmas carol reminds us:
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.
The carol from which he quotes is, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," sung here by Bing Crosby:

In his homily during the Mass at Christmas Midnight, His Excellency the Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield in Illinois, welcomed the statement of President Obama and called it "helpful."

For my part, I offer my gratitude for so poignant and - in our day - daring a statement. Please, do not forget remember the persecuted Christians in your prayers this Christmas, as well as the First Family of the United States of America.

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