Monday, September 8, 2014

Prise de parole en faveur des chrétiens du Moyen-Orient [au rassemblement re Irak]

Parliament Hill Presentation in Support of the Christians of the Middle East Threatened by ISIS
6 September 2014

Nous nous sommes réunis ici cet après-midi pour exprimer notre solidarité avec les chrétiens du Moyen-Orient, tout particulièrement avec nos frères et sœurs qui en Irak et en Syrie ont à endurer les horreurs de la guerre et des privations de toutes sortes : la mort, le manque de logements, de nourriture, de leur gagne-pain. Ils ont perdu leur place dans la société, dans leur pays  où ils avaient pourtant vécu en paix avec leurs voisins depuis nombre d’années, depuis près de deux mille ans.

Notre préoccupation avec le sort des chrétiens – les chaldéens, les syriaques et ceux des autres traditions orientales – nous amène à exprimer notre solidarité avec les personnes de toutes minorités qui ont également à souffrir à cause de toutes sortes d’atrocités : des Yazidis, des musulmans, des juifs, des kurdes.

Tous membres de tous ces groupes ont à composer avec le meurtre, le viol, le vol, l’exil, et ont à endurer combien d’autres difficultés qui portent atteinte à leur dignité d’êtres humains créés  à l’image et à la ressemblance de Dieu.

Nous sommes de simples citoyens qui désirons exprimer leur désarroi devant l’impuissance des gouvernants et des institutions internationales à régler ces conflits, à mater la violence de ceux qui, comme le ISIS, cherchent à semer la pagaille parmi des populations qui ont vécu ensemble depuis des générations et qui ont développé des cultures qui renferment parmi les plus grands trésors de l’humanité.

I have three things to tell you. 

First, thank you. Thank you for your time and courage to express your outrage at the heinous persecutions of the peoples of the Middle East by ISIS. 

Second, you have the power to help change this situation. 

Third, you are not alone. People across Canada and around the world will not tolerate this injustice.

We are here to express solidarity with the Christians of the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria. They are victims of every manner of horror: death, torture, and deprivation of homes and businesses. They have been forced from their rightful place in a society where they have lived in peace with their neighbours for close to two thousand years.

We also express our solidarity with other religious and ethnic minorities who suffer: Yazidis, Muslims, Jews, and Kurds. They have been killed, raped, robbed, displaced, and otherwise abused in ways that trample on their human dignity. Human dignity comes from our creation in the image and likeness of God.

We are dismayed that governments in Iraq and Syria are unable to overcome the hatred and violence that ISIS has unleashed on men, women, and children.

Please pray that those responsible for this brutality come to their senses, cease their atrocities, and repent of this evil. Their actions carry the signature evil incarnate: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10.10) 

If ISIS was under any illusion that they were serving God, they must realize now that they are in fact serving God’s enemy.

A few days ago, the Prince of Wales donated to the charity Aid to the Church in Need. They provide relief to Iraqi Christians who, he said, are suffering from “diabolic evil” under ISIS.

In a letter to Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako, Prince Charles wrote, “You can have no idea how heartbroken I am to hear of the truly unbearable and barbaric persecution suffered not only by Christians in Iraq but also by some of their neighbours of other faiths,” he said. The letter continued: “I…offer…my special prayers and profound sympathy to all members of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq.”

You—all of you—are able to help stop this disaster. It is your duty to act. Raise your voice to say No to barbarism.

Make it clear to the government of Canada that you want more available spaces for Iraqi Christians to find refuge here. Tell your MPs to remove bureaucratic barriers to persecuted Iraqi Christians being received in Ottawa and across Canada.

The Assyrian Christian minority in Iraq belongs to the aboriginal population of that country. The “ethnic cleansing” of these, the founding people of Iraq, should be a world-wide concern. The international community must create safe havens for the Christians, Yazidis, Mandaeans, and others in the plain of Nineveh.

Pope Francis has expressed his closeness to those suffering and sent a personal envoy to monitor the treatment of Christians and other minorities at the hands of ISIS militants. “Dearest brothers and sisters so persecuted,” the pope said, “I know how much you suffer, I know that you are deprived of everything. I am with you in your faith in Him who conquered evil!”

Gatineau archbishop Paul-André Durocher, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, has called for easier refugee sponsorship, more diplomatic efforts on behalf of Iraqi minorities by Canada, and safeguarding freedom of conscience and religion.

He has also asked Catholics in Canada to donate to:

·       The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace—to which the Government of Canada recently committed a donation of $1 million from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada to support Iraqi refugees fleeing the violence in Northern Iraq;
·       the Catholic Near East Welfare Association [CNEWA] of Canada whose Director, Mr. Carl Hetu will address us shortly;
·       and Aid to the Church in Need which has given on-the-ground assistance in recent months;
           all of these entities have humanitarian relief efforts in the region.

CNEWA Canada has started emergency campaign to fund Iraqi clergy who are providing water, food, medicine, and pastoral care to Christians fleeing ISIS on foot.

Today, I echo the call of Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon, Louis Raphael Sako, for Iraqis to turn from their current path, which threatens Christian-Muslim coexistence. This path, if not stopped, will lead to a “human, civil and historic catastrophe.”

I stand with you who pray and work for peace. I stand with you who send emergency funds to the victims of persecution. I stand with you who petition our government to act. Keep your voice raised, so that the world will heed your plea for reconciliation, harmony, and peace. This is the true brotherhood at the heart of all authentic religion.

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