Hooded vandals had dragged out the pews, statues and sacred images into the street, smashing them and setting them on fire. They also sprayed graffiti and abusive slogans on the inside walls of the church as well as on its doors.
“Persecuted & Forgotten?” warns that the Church in the region could vanish if radical Islamists were to mount another attack on vulnerable communities—a threat highlighted by reports of jihadists escaping prison, as a result of renewed violence in northeastern Syria.
“I cannot go anywhere alone, for I might be attacked again, and I cannot worship freely. I have no security or legal protection. Still, I do not want to leave my country. This is my home.”
“Seeing people from different ages, different backgrounds, different religions and from all over Lebanon, all united together against this corrupt system—that’s all I needed to regain my hope in the Lebanon I dream of.”
“So far we don’t know who killed him, although it appears that ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack. What we do know is that Father Hovsep was dressed in his priestly attire and was consequently identifiable as a priest.”
Father Werenfried wanted to ensure that the Western world knew what was happening in the East. He preached hundreds of sermons on the situation of the persecuted Church, giving a voice to the voiceless.
ACN hopes that this new initiative will restore hope for Iraq’s remaining Christians—a battered and fragile mere 10 percent of the 1.5 million Christians living in the country prior to 2003, when the US invaded the country. The subsequent civil war saw the religiously motivated murder of at least 1,000 Christians.
In keeping with the promise of Saint Padre Pio—“When one million children pray the rosary, the world will change”—the campaign is intended to strengthen the faith through the power of children’s prayers.
“We appeal to the conscience of Iraqi officials to listen seriously to their people, who are complaining of the current miserable situation, the deterioration of services, and the spread of corruption.”
“What most impresses me is that there are people on the other side of the world who are helping us, people whom we will undoubtedly never meet or get to know. They are helping because we are all one Church, united in love of the Kingdom of God.”