Iraqi Bishops to French: Stay With Us

Appeal for Support as Christians Are Targets in Attacks

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PARIS, NOV. 11, 2010 ( Bishops of Iraq are appealing to their brothers in France to «stay with us,» affirming that prayer and fraternal support are more necessary than ever.

The Iraqi appeal comes in the wake of anti-Christian attacks on Tuesday and Wednesday that closely followed an Oct. 31 massacre that killed 58 in Baghdad’s Syrian Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation.

Bombs exploded at three Christian homes on Tuesday evening, and mortar bombs were set off Wednesday throughout Christian neighborhoods such as Dora, in southern Baghdad, Aid to the Church in Need reported.

Vatican Radio reported Wednesday that at least six are dead. Some 26 were injured, including a four-month-old baby. Another church was damaged.

Meanwhile, according to the France Presse agency, a plane from Baghdad landed in Orly, France, on Monday, carrying 35 wounded, 34 of whom were Christians.

The transfer is part of a repatriation initiative for reasons of health, established by France in 2007 to assist Iraqis «belonging to vulnerable religious minorities.» Since then, 1,300 Christians of Iraq have been received in France. A second group of 93 Iraqis will be evacuated in the near future.
Iraqi authorities for their part have requested that France not favor an exodus from the country, while they admitted what happened in the Syro-Catholic church was a catastrophe for Iraq.

The Archiocese of Rabat, Morocco, reported that Iraqi bishops are appealing to their French brothers for support.

«Our Calvary is harsh and seems prolonged,» their message said. «The massacre that took place in the cathedral […] which left 58 dead, including two young priests, and 67 wounded, among them a priest, has shaken us profoundly.»

They added that «we lose patience but we never lose faith and hope. This event of such magnitude, which took place just after the synod [dedicated to the Middle East] hits us even more.»

In this light, they beg «prayer and fraternal and moral support.»

«Your friendship encourages us to stay in our land, to persevere and to hope,» the bishops stated. «Without this we feel alone and isolated.»
«We need your compassion in regard to everything that touches the life of the innocent, Christians and Muslims,» they said. «Stay with us, stay with us until the scourge passes. May the Lord protect us all.»

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