Fri 21st Nov 2014 | Last updated: Thu 20th Nov 2014 at 22:52pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo

Latest News

Persecuted facing ‘way of the cross’ this Easter

By on Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A Syrian church left empty after a mortar attack. The faithful face their darkest Easter in many years (AP)

A Syrian church left empty after a mortar attack. The faithful face their darkest Easter in many years (AP)

Christians in Syria are facing a seemingly endless Way of the Cross, one of the country’s most senior Church leaders has said.

As the ancient Church in the Middle East faced one of the most challenging Holy Weeks in its history, the Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar of Damascus lamented the death of the Dutch Jesuit Fr Frans van der Lugt, who was shot dead by an unknown assailant in the besieged rebel enclave in Homs on April 7.

Archbishop Nassar told the faithful in a Palm Sunday letter: “This Holy Week was introduced by the murder of Fr Frans from Homs in the fourth year of war and violence. Shells raining down on our neighbourhoods, schools closed, we cannot give an account of the victims. We are abandoned to Providence.”

He continued: “This small Syrian people, so kind, generous and patient, have become accustomed to suffering and die in silence. It is in this spirit that we live Holy Week and Easter holidays, knowing that the Way of the Cross … has marked our lives for three years, accompanies the fourth year.
“The end of the tunnel is invisible.”

Last week the Prime Minister said the British Government should stand up against the persecution of Christians abroad.

Speaking at a reception in Downing Street, David Cameron said: “I hope we can do more to raise the profile of the persecution of Christians around the world. It is the case today that our religion is now the most persecuted religion around the world. I think Britain can play a leading role in this.”

It is the first time that the Prime Minister has spoken up on the issue of Christian persecution.

“We have met our obligations in terms of the aid we give to countries around the world,” he said. “We’re seen as a country, which is engaged internationally, and I know that [the Foreign Secretary] William Hague shares my view about this as does Sayeeda Warsi who leads on this issue in the Foreign Office. We should stand up against persecution of Christians and other religious groups wherever and whenever we can, and should be unashamed in doing so.”

During the reception David Cameron also referred to his recent trip to the Holy Land.

He said: “I’m proud this year to have completed a small pilgrimage, which is I have finally made it to the place where our Saviour was both crucified and born.”

The identity of Fr van der Lugt’s killer is still unknown. One theory is that the murder was carried out by a hard-line rebel group, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, as punishment for arranging the evacuation of an elderly Christian woman, a blind Sunni man and 21 young rebels from Homs.

Meanwhile, a new campaign is seeking to include a prayer for persecuted Christians at the end of every Sunday Mass. Church officials are said to be “extremely interested” in the idea.

  • Pingback: Strong Rebuttal to Metropolitan Hilarion's Offensive Remarks - Byz.Ed.

  • Alba

    Christians, and before them Jews, are caught up in an existential crisis of Islam. Islam faced with the challenge of difference attempts to control the difference. This is further complicated by Islam’s relationship with “the modern”, the effects of globalisation, clientism and the continuing destabilising involvement of Western powers in the Arab world. Christians and Jews were and are considered agents of Western interference. A reading of history tells us that the “Christian” powers have contributed much to the suffering. Unlike Jews Christians do not have an Israel to come to the rescue, no recognised homelands for refuge. Quasi-secular Syria was potentially such a place.

  • m parker

    Whether “Western powers” have contributed to any of the present suffering in the Muslim world or not, this suffering would still be taking place, as the Muslim is duty bound to “fight in the cause of Allah ” the way his” prophet” showed him how, until Islam is “proclaimed over all religion”
    There will always be suffering in the name of the Islamic faith then,until such time it is rendered impotent, by speaking the truth about it.

  • Knight John.

    Well done to David Cameron on speaking up against the persecution of Christians. Well, he is an Aston Villa Supporter.