Monthly Archives: August 2014

Pope Francis phone call to parents of James Foley

From Independent Catholic News:

image002Pope Francis has made a private phone call to the parents of journalist James Foley, who was killed this week by the Islamic State group in Syria. The Vatican said the Holy Father consoled them for their loss and assured them of his prayers. Fr James Martin SJ said Diane and John Foley were “moved and grateful” for the Pope’s gesture.
The 40 year old journalist was working in Syria when he was abducted two years ago. James said he wanted to “expose the untold stories” in areas of conflict.
In 2011 he worked in Libya, where he was also kidnapped and imprisoned. Writing in the magazine of his old Alma Mater, the Jesuit Marquette University, after his release, he recounted how he began praying the Rosary during his imprisonment, adding ‘ it helped to keep my mind focused.’
James wrote: ‘I began to pray the Rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed. 
I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused.
Clare and I prayed together out loud. It felt energizing to speak our weaknesses and hopes together, as if in a conversation with God, rather than silently and alone. …
One night, 18 days into our captivity, some guards brought me out of the cell. … Upstairs in the warden’s office, a distinguished man in a suit stood and said, “We felt you might want to call your families.”
I said a final prayer and dialed the number. My mom answered the phone. “Mom, Mom, it’s me, Jim.”
“Jimmy, where are you?”
“I’m still in Libya, Mom. I’m sorry about this. So sorry.” …
“They’re having a prayer vigil for you at Marquette. Don’t you feel our prayers?” she asked.
“I do, Mom, I feel them,” and I thought about this for a second. Maybe it was others’ prayers strengthening me, keeping me afloat.
The official made a motion. I started to say goodbye. Mom started to cry. “Mom, I’m strong. I’m OK. I should be home by Katie’s graduation,” which was a month away.
“We love you, Jim!” she said. Then I hung up.
I replayed that call hundreds of times in my head — my mother’s voice, the names of my friends, her knowledge of our situation, her absolute belief in the power of prayer. She told me my friends had gathered to do anything they could to help. I knew I wasn’t alone.
My last night in Tripoli, I had my first Internet connection in 44 days and was able to listen to a speech Tom Durkin gave for me at the Marquette vigil. To a church full of friends, alums, priests, students and faculty, I watched the best speech a brother could give for another. It felt like a best man speech and a eulogy in one. It showed tremendous heart and was just a glimpse of the efforts and prayers people were pouring forth. If nothing else, prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom, an inner freedom first and later the miracle of being released during a war in which the regime had no real incentive to free us. It didn’t make sense, but faith did.’
Speaking after their son’s death Diane and John Foley talked about their faith and said they were proud that James had done God’s work.
“We know Jimmy’s free.” “He’s finally free. And we know he’s in God’s hands…and we know he’s in heaven.”
A memorial Mass for James will be also held on 18 October on what would have been his 41st birthday.

St Robert of Newminster Newsletter 10th August 2014

CLICK HERE for St Robert of Newminster Newsletter 10th August 2014

The Catholic Bishop’s England and Wales have asked to to pray especially today for the Christians in Iraq and other persecuted minorities.

URGENT MESSAGE FROM CHALDEAN PATRIARCH
Chaldean Catholic Patriarch, Louis-Raphael I Sako, on several urgent aspects and the grave risk in which Iraqi Christians and other refugees still find themselves.

+Louis Raphael Sako
Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon
President of the Assembly of the Catholic Bishops in Iraq
Baghdad – Iraq

10 August 2014

Death and sickness are taking hold of the children and elderly people among the thousands of refugee families spread over the Kurdistan Region who lost everything in the recent tragic developments while the ISIS Militants are still advancing and the humanitarian aid is insufficient.

There are seventy thousand displaced Christians in Ankawa [Erbil] along with the other minorities in this city that has a population of more than twenty-five thousand Christians. The families who found shelter inside the churches or schools are in a rather good condition while those who are still sleeping in the streets and public parks are in a deplorable situation…

In Dohuk, the number of Christian refugees’ amount to more than 60.000 and their situation is worse than those in Erbil. There are also families who found shelters in Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah, as well as some have arrived as far as in the capital city of Baghdad.

While the humanitarian needs are escalating: housing, food, water, medicine and funds, the lack of international coordination is slowing and limiting the realization of an effective assistance to these thousands awaiting immediate support. The Churches are offering everything within their capacity.

To summarize the situation of the Christian villages around Mosul up to the borders of Kurdistan Region: the churches are deserted and desecrated; five bishops are out of their bishoprics, the priests and nuns left their missions and institutions leaving everything behind, the families have fled with their children abandoning everything else! The level of disaster is extreme.

The position of the American president Obama only to give military assistance to protect Erbil is disappointing. The talks about dividing Iraq are threatening. The Americans are not up to a rapid solution to give hope specifically as they are not going to attack the ISIS in Mosul and in the Nineveh Plain. The confirmation that this terrible situation will continue until the Iraqi Security Forces will fight along with Peshmerga against the ISIS militants is very depressing. The President of the Kurdistan Region said that the Kurdish troops are fighting with a terrorist State and not minor groups! While the country is under fire, the politicians in Baghdad are fighting for power.

At the end, perhaps, Mosul will not be liberated neither the villages in the Nineveh Plain. There is no strategy to dry up the sources of manpower and the resources of these Islamic terrorists. They control the oil town of Zumar and the oil fields of Ain Zalah and Batma along with the oil fields of Al-Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor in Syria. The Islamic extremist fighters are joining them from different countries around the world.

The choices of refugee families:

Migration: where and do they have the necessary documents and money?

To stay: in the halls and in the refugee camps, waiting the summer to end and winter to come? Will the schools be reopened and will their children go to elementary schools, high schools or colleges? Will they be welcomed in the schools in Erbil, Duhok and Sulaymaniyah? What is the future of the properties and belongings, along with the jobs, of these thousands of innocent people forced to fee overnight from their dear villages?

These are questions that should inflict pain in the conscience of every person and organization so that something should be done to save this people that have their history in this land from their beginnings.

Canon Andrew White, Vicar of Baghdad, speaks on Newsnight a few days ago: