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 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.

Saint Joseph in Perspective

St. Joseph as a young man

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by Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

The Dream of St. Joseph by Anton Raphael Mengs

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To appreciate Saint Joseph properly we need a clear perspective more than historical facts from Holy Scripture and Tradition. In fact we know very little historically about the man who raised Jesus.

The Marriage of Joseph and Mary by Pietro Perugino

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The three critical instances recorded about Joseph's life are his betrothal to Mary, learning that Mary is with child, and the revelation in a dream about Mary's condition. This ordinary worker and righteous Jew was a carpenter building useful things for others and to honor God. These special moments teach us about the transition from the Old Law to the New Law and the hope it brings. They indicate the shift that must take place in our own lives when God asks us to do the extraordinary and unimaginable.

The Holy Family by Juan Simon Guiterrez

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Fascinating insights into the character of Joseph come to us when observe him through various lenses as spouse of Mary, father of Jesus, man of obedience, man of faith, man of hope, man of charity, man of courage, man of poverty, man of purity, man of prayer, man of patience, man of labor, man of virtue, man of the church; shepherd, protector, and guardian. Then we understand better why God chose Joseph to help raise Jesus with Mary. Jesus needed an earthly father who was mature in age and wisdom, and would have the attributes needed to cope with the challenges of parenting the Son of God.

Rest on the Flight into Egypt by Fra Bartolomeo

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Joseph was head of a household that sheltered the most extraordinary persons. His overarching intention was to care for Jesus and Mary because in doing so he was serving God. Every service for them was an expression of love and thanksgiving. God entrusted Joseph with the greatest and most unimaginable gift. And Joseph through his dedicated care returned the gift perfectly. He was the man closest to Christ.

Christ in the House of His Parents by John Everett Millais

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For us to observe Joseph as he raised Jesus is a lesson about the basic elements of our Catholic faith and presents a model of Christ-like living. This is Joseph in proper perspective.

The Death of Saint Joseph by Francisco Goya

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