Wednesday, April 13, 2016

ACN News - Patriarch takes ‘painful’ stock of ISIS-ravaged Syrian town

By Oliver Maksan


Visiting the Syrian town of Al Qaryatayn, which had just been liberated from IS, the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II saw first-hand the devastation and the grief of the people.

Talking to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Church leader, who resides in Damascus, said on Friday that on the one hand, he was happy about the expulsion of the terrorist militia from the town where Muslims and Christians live. The terrorists had occupied Al Qaryatayn last August.
"This is certainly an encouraging development.”

He continued, “But the residents who had fled now sometimes weep when they see what had become of their town. It was particularly painful for me as someone with pastoral duties to see these tears."

The Patriarch went on to say that the infrastructure had been severely damaged. "When I managed to visit the town with our Catholic brothers on Friday, I was shocked by the extent of the devastation.”

“Many houses had been completely or severely damaged during the fighting. Fittings had been stolen," the Head of the Syriac Orthodox Church explained.

"It was especially painful to see how the churches had been willfully defiled by IS. Both the Syriac Catholic Saint Elian monastery and our Syriac Orthodox church had been deliberately desecrated. Our church was even more severely damaged than the monastery."

The Patriarch stressed that the visit he made together with Catholics on Friday had been an important signal. "At times like this we Christians must stick together. IS wants to kill us all regardless of a Christian's church affiliation," Ignatius Aphrem said.

"During my visit my main concern was to give people hope. I told them that they should thank God for their lives. Houses and churches can be built up again. A life lost cannot be restored.”

“But as a Church we will not simply talk about it; we will also give the people material help in their reconstruction efforts wherever we can. The crucial factor is the faith that God is with us. Our help is given in the name of the living God."

The Patriarch also conceded, however, that it was very difficult in situations like this to bear Christian witness and to forgive one's enemies. "In view of our circumstances, it is not easy to overcome hatred and to ask God for the gift of forgiveness. It will take time for people to find it in themselves to do this.”

“This is only human and understandable. But we can't get around the willingness to forgive. It is a basic element of Christian life."

The Patriarch emphasized in this connection that the Syrians were experienced in the co-existence of the religions. "In Syria, there is no war between Christians and Muslims. What we're dealing with here is primarily foreign terrorists coming to fight the jihad.”

“There are certainly now Syrians who have adopted the jihadi ideology. But these ideas come from outside, primarily from Saudi Arabia and the Wahhabism practiced there.”

“I therefore do not see the reconciliation between Syrians of different faiths as the problem here. This is possible. After all, despite the many difficulties we all lived peacefully together before the war in Syria. That was the Syria we knew."

In view of the efforts of the United Nations to bring about a political solution to the conflict by holding discussions between the government and the opposition, the Patriarch said: "If we Syrians settled things between ourselves, there would be no problems, I believe. But we are not na├»ve.”

“The difficulty of a political solution is that there are both regional and international interests which come together in Syria. This makes the situation so complicated."

Ignatius Aphrem II expressed skepticism about the representatives of the Syrian opposition negotiating with the government in Geneva. "Of course, I hope that the talks will be successful. But the opposition there does not have many adherents here in Syria itself.”

“What's more, there are many Islamists among them. We Christians and others do not want to live under Islamic rule."

Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem assumes that about 40 percent of Syria's Christians have now left the country and fled to the neighboring countries or to the west. "I have no illusions. Most of them will not return.”

“If it goes on like this, we Christians in Syria will disappear, just as we have almost disappeared in Turkey and Iraq."

The Patriarch therefore rejects any emigration of the Christians furthered by the west. "The best way to support us is to help us stay in our homeland. Moving to the west is not a solution.”

“Being a refugee in Europe is not a positive experience. It means you are culturally uprooted. It's not good for the refugees and it's not good for the societies that take them in."

The Patriarch explained that both in Syria itself and in the neighboring countries there were safe refuges for the people. "It would be much cheaper for Europe to help our people to stay in Syria, or temporarily in Lebanon or elsewhere.”

“It would be important mainly to help the projects of the Church on the spot. We are very grateful to Aid to the Church in Need for adopting this approach and helping people on the spot. I hope that more organizations will follow this example."


With picture of the Patriarch amidst the rubble (© ACN)


Editor’s Notes:


Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.  ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.


For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

Monday, April 04, 2016

Media Advisory: Alabama State Legislature To Pass Resolution Honoring Mother Angelica



Irondale, AL (EWTN) – The Alabama State Legislature will pass a resolution honoring EWTN Foundress Mother Angelica at 1 p.m. Central Time, Tuesday, April 5 in Montgomery, Al. Media Titan Mother Angelica, the only woman in television history to found and lead a cable network for 20 years, died Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016 and was laid to rest April 1.

Mayor Kenneth Nail, Mayor of Hanceville, Ala. and others will be present when the resolution is passed. 

EWTN Global Catholic Network, now entering its 35th year, is the largest religious media network in the world. EWTN’s 11 networks broadcast the Gospel message in multiple languages 24 hours a day, seven days a week to over 258 million television households in 145 countries and territories. EWTN’s outreach includes direct broadcast satellite television and radio services; AM & FM radio networks transmitted through SIRIUS/XM, iHeart Radio, and almost 500 Catholic radio affiliates across the U.S.; a worldwide shortwave radio service; the largest Catholic website in the U.S.; print and electronic news services that include “The National Catholic Register” newspaper, Catholic News Agency and ACI Group; and EWTN Publishing, Inc.



Monday, March 28, 2016

Mother Angelica Dies at 92 Founded the EWTN Global Catholic Network





Irondale, AL (EWTN) Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, P.C.P.A., known to millions around the world as Foundress of the EWTN Global Catholic Network, died peacefully at 5 p.m. CDT, Easter Sunday, March 27, surrounded by the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, Ala.

“This is a sorrow-filled day for the entire EWTN Family,” said EWTN Chairman
and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw. “Mother has always, and will always, personify EWTN, the Network which she founded. In the face of sickness and long-suffering trials, Mother’s example of joy and prayerful perseverance exemplified the Franciscan spirit she held so dear. We thank God for Mother Angelica and for the gift of her extraordinary life.”

Born Rita Antoinette Rizzo in Canton, Ohio in 1923, she entered the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Cleveland on Aug. 15, 1944 at the age of 21. A year later, she received her religious name – Sister Mary Angelica of the Annunciation. Soon after, the Cleveland Monastery established a new foundation in Canton, and Sr. Angelica was chosen to be a member of the community there. On Jan. 2, 1947 she made her first profession of vows and in January 1953, Sister Angelica took her solemn vows as a Poor Clare nun.
In 1956, while awaiting a delicate spinal surgery, Sister Angelica made a promise that, if God would permit her to walk again, she would build a monastery in the South. On May 20, 1962, Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Irondale, Ala. was dedicated by Archbishop Thomas J. Toolen of Mobile. 

In Irondale, Mother Angelica’s vision took form and her distinctive approach to teaching the Catholic Faith led to parish talks, the publication of pamphlets and books, then radio and television opportunities. By 1980, the Nuns had converted the garage of their monastery into a television studio.

Despite having only a high school education, no television experience and only $200 in the bank, Mother Angelica officially launched the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) on Aug. 15, 1981 and served as the Network’s first Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. She famously refused to air paid advertisements to fund her Network, relying solely on viewer donations, despite coming close to bankruptcy on several occasions.

More than 34 years later, EWTN is the largest Catholic media network in the world, transmitting 11 separate television channels in multiple languages, reaching more than 264 million homes in 145 countries and territories. The Network now also includes multiple radio platforms, online and digital media outlets, global news services and a publishing group.
Known for her humor and ability to colloquially communicate the Catholic Faith to both Catholics and non-Catholics alike, her popular EWTN television show, “Mother Angelica Live” was launched in 1983. Episodes of the program continue to air regularly and have been translated into multiple languages including Spanish, German, and Ukrainian.

In addition to the Eternal Word Television Network and Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, Mother Angelica also founded the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, a religious community of men based in Irondale.

In 1995, Mother Angelica was inspired by God to begin construction of a new monastery and church on a nearly 400 acre site in rural Hanceville, Ala. By 1999, the nuns relocated from Irondale to the new site in Hanceville. Our Lady of the Angels Monastery and the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament were formally dedicated in December 1999. The Shrine remains one of the most visited tourist sites in the State of Alabama.

Before stepping down as EWTN’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 2000, Time magazine described Mother Angelica as, "arguably the most influential Roman Catholic woman in America.”

Throughout her life, she struggled with painful illnesses and physical challenges.  On Christmas Eve of 2001, Mother Angelica suffered a debilitating stroke and cerebral hemorrhage which took away her capacity to speak.

In 2009, she was awarded the prestigious Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal by Pope Benedict XVI in recognition of her faithful and extraordinary service to the Roman Catholic Church. This past February, while on board the plane taking him to Cuba, Pope Francis sent a special blessing to Mother Angelica, and asked her for her prayers.

Mother Angelica’s final years were prayerful and quiet, spent with her nuns at the Monastery she built in Hanceville.  

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. CDTFriday, April 1 at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville. Interment will immediately follow in the Shrine’s Crypt Church.

Because of limited seating capacity, admission to the Shrine for the funeral Mass will be by invitation only. The public may participate directly outside, in the Shrine’s piazza.  Services will be broadcast by EWTN. Further information is available at www.ewtn.com.

Catholic Leaders React to the Passing of Mother Mary Angelica, P.C.P.A.


Catholic Leaders React to the Passing of Mother Mary Angelica, P.C.P.A. 

Irondale, AL (EWTN) – Following the announcement of the death of Mother Mary Angelica, P.C.P.A. this evening, several Catholic leaders issued statements reacting to the news of her passing. Known to millions of television viewers around the world, Mother Angelica founded two thriving religious orders, as well as EWTN, the world’s largest religious media network. Mother Angelica died at 5 p.m. CDT, Easter Sunday, March 27, at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, Ala.

Mother Dolores Marie, Superior of the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery:

“Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, P.C.P.A. passed peacefully from this life at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery on 5 p.m. CDT, Easter Sunday, March 27, in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, surrounded by the prayers and love of her spiritual daughters, sons and dear friends. Known as “Mother to Millions” to her EWTN Family, she untiringly exhorted all to pursue holiness by living with God in the present moment. We are grateful for your prayers for this courageous daughter of the Church and your support of EWTN, the media network that she founded for the salvation of souls. May our beloved Mother Angelica, Foundress of EWTN, enter through the Mercy of God into the joy of Heaven.”

EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw
“This is a sorrow-filled day for the entire EWTN Family. Mother has always, and will always, personify EWTN, the Network which she founded. In the face of sickness and long-suffering trials, Mother’s example of joy and prayerful perseverance exemplified the Franciscan spirit she held so dear. We thank God for Mother Angelica and for the gift of her extraordinary life. Her accomplishments and legacies in evangelization throughout the world are nothing short of miraculous and can only be attributed to Divine Providence and her unwavering faithfulness to Our Lord. The important thing, as Mother Angelica’s life and the lives so many of the saints have shown us, is to be faithful and to persevere. Mother Angelica’s life has been a life of faith; her prayer life and obedience to God are worthy of our imitation.  Everything she did was an act of faith.”

The Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia:
“Mother Angelica succeeded at a task the nation’s bishops themselves couldn’t achieve.  She founded and grew a network that appealed to everyday Catholics, understood their needs and fed their spirits. Mother Angelica inspired other gifted people to join her in the work without compromising her own leadership and vision. I admired her very much, not just as a talented leader and communicator, but as a friend and great woman religious of generosity, intellect and Catholic faith.”

The Most Reverend Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham in Alabama:
“Mother Angelica brought the truth and the love and the life of the Gospel of Jesus to so many people, not only to our Catholic household of faith, but to many thousands of people who are not Catholic, in that beautiful way she had of touching lives, bringing so many people into the Catholic Faith.”

Father Anthony Mary Stelten, M.F.V.A., Community Servant, Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word:
“The Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word are deeply saddened by the death of our Foundress, Mother Mary Angelica, P.C.P.A. Mother was an inspiration for all of us in her contemplative life of adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament and in the deep, personal relationship that she had with the Lord. Her friendly manner, pleasant wit, vision and enthusiastic zeal for evangelization so animated her mission at EWTN and inspired all who had the privilege of getting to know her in person or through the Network. In founding our Community, Mother Angelica imbued our manner of life with her own profound love for the Real Presence, devotion to Our Lady and the spirituality of St. Francis. She shared with us her special charism of evangelization through the modern means of social communication, most especially through service to the apostolate of EWTN. The friars will always treasure the unique relationship we had with Mother Angelica and the way of life that she inspired for us.”

Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight, Knights of Columbus:
“In passing to eternal life, Mother Angelica leaves behind a legacy of holiness and commitment to the New Evangelization that should inspire us all. I was honored to know and be able to assist Mother Angelica during the early days of EWTN. Over the years, that relationship grew, and today the Knights of Columbus and EWTN partner regularly on important projects. Mother Angelica was fearless, because she had God on her side. She saw what He needed her to do and she did it! She transformed the world of Catholic broadcasting, and brought the Gospel to far corners of our world. That witness of faith was unmistakable to anyone who met and worked with her, and generations of Catholics have, and will continue to be formed by her vision, and her "yes" to God's will.”

Schedule of Memorial Events Announced for Mother Mary Angelica, P.C.P.A.


Schedule of Memorial Events Announced for Mother Mary Angelica, P.C.P.A.

Irondale, AL (EWTN) – EWTN Global Catholic Network has announced the schedule of memorial events for its Foundress Mother Mary Angelica, P.C.P.A., who died Easter Sunday, March 27, at 5 p.m. CDT. All events will be held at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama and will be televised globally on EWTN. Times listed are U.S. Central (CDT):

Tuesday, March 29
3 PM: Rite of Reception of Mother Angelica’s Body.
Mother Angelica’s body will be received in a ceremony and escorted through the Piazza of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Upon conclusion of the Procession, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy will be prayed in the Shrine’s Upper Church and the body will be transferred to the Monastery Cloister for private visitation with the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration.

Wednesday, March 30
10 AM: Rosary in Memoriam and Public Visitation.
A public rosary will be led by Fr. Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA in the Upper Church of the Shrine. Upon conclusion of the Rosary, a public visitation will begin.

7 PM: Rosary in Memoriam and Conclusion of Public Visitation.
Fr. Joseph Mary Wolfe, MFVA will lead a Rosary in the Upper Church of the Shrine to conclude Public Visitation for the day.

Thursday, March 31
10 AM: Rosary in Memoriam and Public Visitation.
A public rosary will be led by Fr. Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA in the Upper Church of the Shrine. Upon conclusion of the Rosary, a public visitation will begin.

5 PM: Solemn Vespers.
Evening Prayer will be chanted by the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, the Community of Religious Men founded by Mother Angelica.

7 PM: Vigil Service and Rosary at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament will be led by Bishop Robert J. Baker of Birmingham.
Music will be performed by a Schola composed of the Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius in Chicago. The Homilist will be Fr. Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA.

Friday, April 1
11 AM: Mass of Christian Burial and Rite of Committal.
The funeral Mass will be celebrated in the Shrine’s Upper Church by bishops and clergy from around the world. The homilist will be Fr. Joseph Mary Wolfe, MFVA. The Mass will conclude with a Procession carrying Mother Angelica’s body through the Shrine’s Piazza and into the Crypt. The procession will be followed by the Rite of Committal and interment in the Crypt Chapel.

Because of limited seating capacity, admission to the Shrine for the funeral Mass will be by invitation only. The public may participate directly outside, in the Shrine’s piazza. For a complete schedule of all memorial events and programming information, visit www.ewtn.com.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Our Dear Mother Angelica is Called Home

Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord and may Your perpetual light shine upon her...

EWTN's Life in Pictures

Mother Angelica's earthly life came to an end on Easter Sunday.

‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ - Matthew 25:21-22


Picture source

This is how I would like to remember her, with her infectious laughter was she taught us scripture on her EWTN live show.  She will be sorely missed.  

May she rest in peace.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

ACN News - A prayer for a priest abducted by ISIS

"Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done"


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Peace be with you! We are still in shock from the brutal murder of the four Missionaries of Charity and 12 collaborators in Aden on March 4. We pray for the repose of their souls. At the same time we implore the four martyrs to intercede for Yemen and for the whole Middle East that peace may come and violence cease.

Since March 4, Father Tom Uzhunnalil, a Salesian priest, who has been serving in Yemen for several years, has been missing. Since the day he was kidnapped we do not know what has happened to him or where he is. There is still hope that he may be freed.

As we are celebrating the Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord, I ask all of you to pray for Father Tom, especially during the adoration hours on Maundy Thursday after the celebration of the Last Supper Mass.

United with Jesus, with Father Tom and many others who are persecuted we pray: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). We pray that the same angel who comforted Jesus may give strength to all who are in danger and strengthen them in the hours of darkness.

I wish to express my solidarity and compassion with all who are affected by the events in Aden: the family members, the Missionaries of Charity, the Congregation of the Salesian Fathers, and not least the patients of the home and the few Christians remaining without a shepherd during this time of trial.

We pray for the conversion of the evildoers and make our own, the prayer of Jesus on the cross: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). We believe that Golgotha is not the end. Jesus is the Christ, the Risen Lord who lives and reigns forever. In Him I wish you all a very Happy Easter.

Bishop Paul Hinder
Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia
Abu Dhabi, March 22, 2016


Editor’s Notes:



Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.  ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.


For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

Thursday, March 24, 2016

St. Alphonsus de Liguori's Meditations for Passion Thursday - Jesus is crowned with Thorns, and treated as a Mock King

"The Crowning with Thorns" - from Hans Holbein's Grey Passion Series
Picture source

"...And when the thorns, by the pressure of their hands alone, could not be made to penetrate deeper in that divine head which they were piercing, with the self-same reed, and with all their might, they battered down that barbarous crown:  And spitting upon Him, they took the reed, and struck His Head.  O grateful thorns, do you thus torture your Creator?  But what thorns?  what thorns?  You, ye wicked thoughts of mine; it is you that have pierced the head of my Redeemer.

O, my God! how the blood is now streaming down from that pierced head over the face and the breast of Jesus!

And Thou, my Saviour, dost not even utter a complaint of of such unjust cruelties!   Thou art King of heaven and of earth: but now, my Jesus, Thou art brought down so low as to appear before us a king of derision and of sorrows, being made the laughing stock of all Jerusalem...

But no; these men for whom Thou art suffering have not yet their fill of torturing and making game of Thee.  After having thus tortured Thee, and dressed Thee up as a mock king, they bend their knee before Thee, and scornfully address Thee:  Hail to Thee, O king of the Jews.  And the, with shouts of laughter, they deal out more blows upon Thee, thus rendering twofold the anguish of the head already pierced by the thorns:  And bowing the knee before Him, they derided Him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews, and they gave Him blows.  Do thou at least go, O my soul, and recognize Jesus for what He is, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; and return thanks to Him, and love Him, now that thou beholdest Him become for love of Thee, the king of sorrows..."

-The Passion and the Death of Jesus Christ

Monday, March 21, 2016

St. Alphonsus de Liguori's Meditation for Passion Monday

"Christ Before Caiphas" by Nicolo Frangipane

Picture source

Jesus is apprehended, and led before Caiphas

..."'They apprehended Jesus, and bound Him."  O amazement!  A God bound as a criminal by His own creatures!  Behold, my soul, how some of them seize hold of His hands; others put the handcuffs on Him; and others smite Him; and the innocent Lamb lets Himself be bound and struck at their will, and says not a word:  'He was offered because it was His own will, and opened not His mouth.  He is led as a sheep to the slaughter.'  He neither speaks nor utters complaint, since He had Himself already offered Himself up to die for us; and, therefore, did that Lamb let Himself be bound and led to death without opening His mouth.  

They bring Him up before Caiphas, who is pleased at seeing Him and asks Him about His disciples, and about His doctrine.  Jesus replies that He has spoken openly...'Behold, these (the Jews) know what I have said.'  But upon this reply, one of the officials of the court gives Him a blow in the face, saying, 'Dost Thou answer the high-priest so?'  But, O God, how does a reply, so humble and gentle, deserve so great an insult?

Ah, my Jesus, Thou dost suffer it all in order to pay the penalty of the insults that I have offered to Thy heavenly Father.

'What more need have we of witnesses?  Behold, ye have now heard His blasphemy; what is your opinion?  And they unanimously replied, He is guilty of death.'  And then, as the Evangelists relate, they all began to spit in His face, and to abuse Him, and slapping Him with their hands, and striking Him with their fists; and then tying a piece of cloth over His face, they turned Him into ridicule, saying, 'Prophesy to us, Thou Christ; who is it that smote Thee?'...St. Mark writes, And some began to spit upon Him, and to cover His face, and to deal upon Him blows, and to say to Him,  'Prophesy.  And the officers did smite Him with the palms of their hands.'"

- The Passion and the Death of Jesus Christ

Friday, March 18, 2016

Aid to the Church in Need - Yemen – ‘They passed out bread and received gunfire’

By Oliver Maksan


The Catholic Church on the Arabian Peninsula has expressed its dismay at the indifference world opinion has shown in response to the nuns murdered in Yemen. In Aden on March 4, 2016, four nuns of the order founded by the Blessed Mother Teresa, whose work involved the care of the elderly and disabled—as well as 12 lay people—were murdered, presumably by Islamic extremists. A monk from India has been missing since then.

In an interview with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Bishop Camillo Ballin, who is responsible for the northern part of the region, said: “No one has lifted a finger. It doesn’t interest anyone when it is Christianity that is under attack.”

“The same thing happened to Jesus. They all abandoned Him. And this is what is now happening to the Church.”

The prelate, a Comboni Missionary who heads the Bahrain-based Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia, stressed that a “normal” Muslim could not approve of this kind of horrific violence.

The Italian bishop emphasized that the four nuns of the order founded by Mother Teresa were slain out of hatred for the Christian faith. “Thus, they can quite unequivocally be called martyrs,” he said.

Three other Missionaries of Charity were murdered in Yemen in 1998.

Bishop Ballin added that “the martyrdom of these nuns is a confirmation that Mother Teresa’s congregation continues to be close to Jesus. Because anyone who draws near to Jesus is always bound to His suffering and His death.”

Christians in the region are called to bear witness to Jesus by suffering violence, he said, adding:  “These nuns gave bread to the elderly and disabled Muslims living in their facility. In return, they received gunfire.”

“But God is not absent. He sees everything and knows what He is doing. These fanatics, who have perpetrated this heinous crime, have basically declared to the entire world that these nuns were very close to Jesus—so close that they shared in His end and were killed themselves.”

However, the death of these nuns was not the end, just as the death of Jesus was not His end, the prelate continued, saying Jesus’ death on the cross “was followed by resurrection.”

“The same can be said for these nuns. Their sacrifice was not only made for their personal resurrection, but also for their congregation and for those whom they served, for Yemen and for their murderers,” declared Bishop Ballin.

The bishop believes that only God “will be able to enter into the hearts of these inhuman fanatics. I am convinced that the sacrifice these nuns made will also prove itself valuable to these hearts of stone that continue to spread hate and malice.”

Yemen is currently the scene of a bloody conflict in which both religious and tribal rivalries play a role. According to information provided by the United Nations, the year-long conflict has led to the internal displacement of more than 2.4 million people.

Since March 2015, neighboring Saudi Arabia has been intervening on behalf of the Sunni government, which is beleaguered by Huthi rebels, Shiites allied with Iran. Jihadist groups are also active, primarily in the southern parts of the country.

In December 2015, jihadists blew up a Catholic church.


Editor’s Notes:



Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.  ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.

For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org