Cardinal Leonardo Sandri on Sunday said “no religion can accept to kill God’s children in the Name of the same God.” He was speaking during a homily at the Chaldean Cathedral of St. Peter in San Diego, California.
Cardinal Sandri, the Prefect for the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, is this month visiting Eastern-Rite Catholic communities in California.
Most of the members of the Chaldean Church come from Iraq, and Cardinal Sandri spoke about the current persecution of Christians in the country, especially at the hands of the Islamist ISIS group which has driven the once-large Catholic community out of the city of Mosul.
“I recall with you the psalm: by the rivers of Babylon we sat in tears (137,1) …without songs of joy.. And today, two thousands years later, we wonder in pain: will there be no more joyful songs of the Christian liturgy in Mosul?” asked Cardinal Sandri. “Should our harps, hung on the trees of that beautiful land, wait too long before they resound again?”
The Cardinal insisted Christians have a vital role to play in the Middle East.
“But also the future of Mankind is foreseen as a nuptial feast, at which all human beings must take part,” he said. “As we gaze at such a beautiful future of humanity, we wonder whether there will be a place for Christians of Iraq, Syria and Palestine to celebrate their wedding feasts. Accordingly, there will be no future, no wedding, and no feast in the Middle East without the presence and the contribution of Christians.”
The full text of the homily of Cardinal Sandri is below:
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri’s homily at the Chaldean Cathedral in san Diego (CA) – USA
on Sunday, July 27, 2014 (readings: 2 Cor 1,8-14: Luke 14, 1-14)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I felt compelled to be here today, joining this Christian Diaspora to pray in union with Pope Francis, for the Oriental Churches in these difficult days. His Holiness contacted by phone both the Chaldean and Syriac Patriarchs encouraging all Christians of Iraq and Syria to persevere strong in faith and hope. And so, we are gathered with Mar Sarhad Jammo, Bishop of this Eparchy of Saint Peter the Apostle in San Diego, Mar Bawai Soro, titular Bishop of Foraziana his Protosyncellus, Mar Elias Zaidan, Maronite Bishop of Los Angeles, and all the faithful, especially Chaldean and Syriac of California, to proclaim that the Crucified Lord has risen, and He is always with us, despite all tribulations of history. With the same hope our hearts go to Palestinian, Egyptian and Ukrainian Christians who are also enduring violent conflicts.
The readings of the Chaldean Liturgy of this Sunday sound as if they were written for those suffering communities: “Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened, that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again” (2 Cor 1,9-10).
These words, filled with hope, bestow on us a heavenly consolation, which we pray it reaches the souls of those in a so cruel distress.
I recall with you the psalm: “by the rivers of Babylon we sat in tears” (137,1) …without songs of joy.. And today, two thousands years later, we wonder in pain: will there be no more joyful songs of the Christian liturgy in Mosul? Should our harps, hung on the trees of that beautiful land, wait too long before they resound again?
But, we believe that the harp of the Holy Spirit resounds the praise of a resurrected Lord while the powers of death pretend to have the final word on history!
Today’s gospel compares the salvation of mankind to a wedding feast, fulfilled in Jesus Christ. We are confident that, despite our sinfulness, the Divine Bridegroom, in his mercy, will welcome and wait on us in the Eternal Jerusalem, his Bride.
But also the future of Mankind is foreseen as a nuptial feast, at which all human beings must take part. As we gaze at such a beautiful future of humanity, we wonder whether there will be a place for Christians of Iraq, Syria and Palestine to celebrate their wedding feasts. Accordingly, there will be no future, no wedding, and no feast in the Middle East without the presence and the contribution of Christians.
In fact, Patriarch Louis Sako said that "for the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians…but the blood of Christians has been mixed with that of Muslims, as it was shed in the defense of their rights and lands. Together they built a civilization, cities, and a heritage. It is truly unjust now to treat Christians by rejecting them and throwing them away, considering them as nothing… It is obvious that this would have disastrous consequences on the coexistence between the majority and the minorities, even among Muslims themselves, in the near and long term. Hence, Iraq is heading to a humanitarian, cultural, and historical disaster”.
As an echo of this claim, a civil personality adds speaking about Christian and Muslims in Iraq: “We will all either die together or we will live together with dignity".
Also, the Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai has called for dialogue telling those who are persecuting Christians: “Humanity is the only thing we share with you. Come let’s talk and reach an understanding on this basis” And he asked: “What have the Christians in Mosul and Iraq done in order for them to be treated with such hatred and abuse? You rely on the language of arms, terrorism, violence and influence, but we rely on the language of dialogue, understanding and respect for others”.
Those Christians are seen as the blind, the crippled, the lame, and the poor who had no place at the wedding banquet of History. But Christ addresses his invitation to these specific categories of people, with whom he intends to build the future of humanity. We, Christians of the world, must be their voice and strongly defend their rights.
No religion can accept to kill God’s children in the Name of the same God.
Now we offer for the Oriental Christians the silence of our prayer, that is not similar to that of the indifference, because it takes vigor from the silence of Christ on the cross that was full of eternal love. And nothing shall separate us from that love, nor life nor death! (cf Rom 8,38-39).
Although they may not be capable of repaying us, we will be repaid by the Lord Himself for our prayers, solidarity and charity at the resurrection of the righteous.
In that day we could understand the promise of Christ: “…all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Lc 14,11) which is so true for the persecuted Christians.
May the Most Blessed Mother of God, the Apostles and all the Martyrs of the Oriental Churches of the past and of the present intercede to God on behalf of those brothers and sisters. Amen.