Fr Raymond de Souza Vatican spokesman is the world’s worst job FEATURE, PAGE 9
Tim Stanley The PM who almost converted
NOTEBOOK, PAGE 12
Max Wind-Cowie On assisted suicide we must be zealots
COMMENT, PAGE 12
July 25 2014 £1.50 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)
Western leaders silent as faithful in Iraq told to convert, pay or die Former British ambassador to Holy See criticises Number 10 as Christians driven out of Mosul
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
WESTERN leaders are staying silent as Islamists wipe out Christianity in Iraq in scenes recalling 1930s Germany or the ethnic cleansing seen during the Balkans in the early 1990s, a former British ambassador to the Holy See has said.
Francis Campbell, who served in Rome from 2005 to 2011, said he was deeply disturbed by the West’s indifference as Christians were driven out the Iraqi city of Mosul after Islamists gave them an ultimatum to “convert, pay or die” by noon on July 19.
He said: “The Mosul imagery is so arresting. It’s reminiscent of what we saw in Europe in the build-up to the Second World War or the ethnic cleansing witnessed during the Balkans in the early 1990s, where there is an attempt to systematically wipe out an entire civilisation and culture. It’s as if the world is asleep and doesn’t care. I’m surprised there hasn’t been condemnation and calls for solidarity.”
In a campaign of violence and intimidation, members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) marked the homes of Christian families throughout the city with the Arabic letter “N”, standing for “Nazarene”.
The Sunni militants have burned an 1,800-year-old church to the ground and ordered church bells to be silent. Last Sunday, Mass was not celebrated in the city for the first time in 1,600 years.
Mr Campbell noted that UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon had said the purge of Christians in Iraq’s second largest city was “likely a crime against humanity”. But days after the ISIS ultimatum deadline had passed, neither Number 10 nor the European Union had spoken out.
He said: “We are one of the biggest aid donors in the world. Are we going to offer these Christians refuge? This is religious persecution. This is what a whole series of conventions are there for. Have we used our diplomatic clout to stop this and highlight this human rights violation?”
A displaced Christian girl who fled the violence in Mosul with her family is pictured in Qaraqosh, one of the last refugees in northern Iraq for the faithful Photo: AP
An estimated 10,000 Christians fled Mosul after ISIS released a statement through the city’s mosques threatening them with “death by the sword” unless they converted to Islam or paid an exorbitant tax.
In his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis expressed solidarity with Mosul’s Christians.
He said: “Today our brothers are persecuted – they are banished from their homes and forced to flee without even being able to take their belongings. My dear brothers and sisters who are persecuted, I know how much you suffer. I know that you are deprived of all. I am with you in faith in He who conquered evil. May the God of peace arouse in all an authentic desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence cannot be overcome with violence. Violence is overcome with peace!”
Meanwhile, Patriarch Louis Sako, the Chaldean Archbishop of Baghdad, has released an open letter to “all men of good will and those who care for the Iraqi nation”.
He wrote: “Who knows what is holding in the coming days as the laws of the Islamic State are based on what they claim to be the Sharia law, including the redefinition of identities on the basis of religion and sectarianism. These requirements offend Muslims and the reputation of Islam, which says ‘you have your religion and we have ours’ and ‘there is no compulsion in religion’, and it is in contradiction of 1,400 years of history and a lifetime of the Islamic world, and coexistence with different religions and different peoples, east and west, respecting their beliefs and living in fraternity.
“The Christians and in particular in our East, and since the advent of Islam, have shared together sweet and bitter memories, their bloods were mixed in defence of their rights and their land, and together they built, cities, civilisation and heritage. It is shameful that Christians are being rejected, expelled and diminished.
“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 and historical disaster.
“Therefore we call unto them, a warm, brotherly, urgent and serious call, and we appeal to our fellow Iraqis who support them to reconsider their strategy, and respect the unarmed innocent people, of all ethnicities, religions and sects. The Koran commands respect to the innocent, and does not call to seize the property of people forcibly, it calls on helping the widow, the orphan, the destitute and the defenceless.”
This Saturday a demonstration will take place outside Parliament. Participants will pray the Angelus at noon for the Middle Eastern faithful. Adams cartoon: Page 12 Editorial comment: Page 13
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Blogger who injured spinal cord a year ago begins to walk again BY DAVID V BARRETT
A YOUNG Catholic blogger is taking his first steps a year after suffering a serious spinal injury in a swimming pool accident.
Thomas Peters, creator of the popular American Papist blog and media director for the National Organisation for Marriage, fractured his fifth cervical vertebra and severely injured his spinal cord in an accident while diving in July last year.
In an online post last December he wrote: “Had I not received the benefit of the best possible care so soon, my recovery would have been unalterably impaired.”
But his injuries were still severe. He underwent two days of surgery and was only released from rehab months later.
By January he was able to move his right thumb and little finger, and his legs were very slowly beginning to “wake up”.
Mr Peters wrote: “A major accident is an invitation to both physical and spiritual recovery. I have never felt God’s presence as much as I do since the accident.
“People will say that accidents like mine should call into question God’s mercy or even His existence. But for me the fact that I survived my injury is the greatest evidence I have ever experienced of God’s mercy and providence.
“I believe God allowed my accident to happen and that
He chose to help me survive that accident and every day gives me the opportunity to be blessed through it.”
Now, a year after his accident, a short video posted at petersrecovery. blogspot.ca showed Mr Peters walking slowly down a corridor supported on a frame, with assistance in moving his legs.
“The accident has taught me that I am a work still in progress and anything I do achieve is for God’s glory,” he wrote.
Vatican cricketers promised top coach BY DAVID V BARRETT
THE VATICAN cricket team has received support from the governor of a province of Pakistan.
Dr Ishrat ul Ebad Khan, governor of Sindh, said he would arrange for a top Pakistani Test cricketer to coach the Vatican team in October. Dr Khan presented the St Peter’s Cricket Club, known as the Vatican XI, with a cheque and six Test-quality Pakistan cricket bats as “a token of friendship”. The team, who play in the papal colours of white and gold with the crossed-key emblem of the Vatican, is made up of priests and seminarians in Rome and includes eight Indians, two Sri Lankans and one each from Pakistan, England and Ireland.
They will visit England in September, playing the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI, the Royal Household at Windsor Castle and other teams. Proceeds from the matches will go to the Global Freedom Network, the joint AnglicanCatholic-Muslim anti-trafficking charity.
Korean pop star joins the Catholic Church BY STAFF REPORTER
THE POP STAR known as Rain has become the latest South Korean celebrity to convert to Catholicism.
has recently received baptism as a Catholic.
It was something that was planned a long time ago. Only family and close friends attended.”
Rain, formerly known as Jung JiHoon, started off in the boy band Fanclub before launching a solo career as a singer. He later starred in several films in Korea and America, most notably the critically acclaimed romantic comedy I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK.
A publicist for the 32year-old star said: “Rain
Other prominent Catholic converts in Korea include the Olympic champion figure skater Kim Yuna. Official statistics suggest that the Church in South Korea has grown by 70 per cent in the last 10 years.
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