Kirkuk, Apr. 23, 2007 (AsiaNews via CWNews.com) - An Iraqi Catholic leader has issued an urgent appeal for help, warning that the country's embattled Christian population is in grave danger, the AsiaNews service reports.

“In Iraq Christians are dying; the Church is disappearing under continued persecution, threats, and violence carried out by extremists who are leaving us no choice: conversion or exile." That was the grim report from Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk.

The Chaldean Catholic prelate-- whose archdiocese in a Kurdish are had previously been spared from religious violence-- reports that attacks on Christians by militant Muslims have now spread throughout the country, including zones that were thought to be safe havens for Christians. The message of the attacks, he said, is that "we can hit anywhere; nowhere is safe."

While Islamic groups are intent on driving the Christian minority out of Iraq, Archbishop Sako observed that Christians belong to an ancient community that helped to form the civilization. He said, "We have to remind the world of the importance of the Christian presence in Iraq, for the good of Iraq."

[For a more detailed story see the AsiaNews web site.]


Teachings of Christ

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

Pentecost

Blessed are You, O Christ our God, * Who has shown the fishermen to be all wise, * by sending down to them the Holy Spirit, * and through them You have caught the whole world in Your net. * O Lover of Mankind, glory to You. (Troparion - Tone 8)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

When the Most High descended, confusing tongues, * He divided the nations; * but when He distributed the tongues of fire, * He called all to unity; * and, with one voice, * we glorify the Most Holy Spirit. (Kontakion - Tone 8)

Saints and Martyrs

Adorned with the blood of Your Martyrs throughout the world, * as with purple and fine linen, * Your Church cries out to You through them: * "Send down Your compassions upon Your people. * Grant peace to Your commonwealth and great mercy to our souls." (Troparion - Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

As the first-fruits of nature to the Planter of Creation, * the whole world offers to You, O Lord, the God-bearing martyrs. * Through their prayers and the intercession of the Mother of God * preserve Your commonwealth, the Church, in profound peace, O Most Merciful One. (Kontakion - Tone 8)

Random Proverb

"Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her." (Proverbs 8:10,11 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

'Wine makes glad the heart of man' (Ps. 104:15). But you who have professed sorrow and grief should turn away from such gladness and rejoice in spiritual gifts. If you rejoice in wine, you will live with shameful thoughts and distress will overwhelm you.

St. Theodore of Edessa