- La situazione sta peggiorando.
Gridate con noi che i diritti umani sono calpestati da persone che parlano in nome di Dio ma che non sanno nulla di Lui che è Amore, mentre loro agiscono spinti dal rancore e dall’odio.
Gridate: Oh! Signore, abbi misericordia dell’Uomo.
Mons. Shleimun Warduni
Baghdad, 19 luglio 2014
martedì, aprile 18, 2017
Fr Jacques Mourad, a member of the Deir Mar Moussa community who is based in Syria was responding to an invitation from the vicar apostolic of Anatolia, Bishop Paolo Bizzeti. Fr Mourad is well known for having escaped from an ISIS jail in October 2015 after four months of captivity.
In the five cities that they visited together, they were able to meet many families who have been living in Turkey for more than two and a half years after fleeing the ISIS advance in Iraq.
All have submitted immigration requests to the UNHCR and they are now waiting for the results. Yet would they consider staying in Turkey? Youssef, who has been set up in Kirsehir does not think so.
“We suffer too much discrimination on a daily basis,” he said. “Finding work is very complicated both as an Iraqi and as a Christian. Those who manage to do so are underpaid.”
The Holy Week ceremonies were arranged according to the various needs and the possibilities available. Several masses were even organized overnight. Some local churches were unable to be used after being closed down, transformed into cafes or even on the way to becoming museums.
So the masses were sometimes celebrated in improbable party rooms illuminated with mirror balls or even sometimes in family homes.
At Nevsehir, 34 people originally from Bartella, Baghdad or Mosul joined in for their first mass since Christmas, pressed together in a narrow lounge room with curtains drawn.
Their eagerness to welcome the two priests and to talk with them revealed the solitude many had experienced in exile. The testimony of Fr Mourad, who now lives in Iraqi Kurdistan, created a bond while his strength and message of peace brought comfort.
At each stage of their journey, the priests visited the sick. Lahib came from Mosul where he was operated on nine months ago for brain cancer. He cried and thanked God for being able to start walking again. The two priests came to celebrate mass with him.
“During the last Supper, Jesus expressed his desire to share the Paschal feast with his disciples,” Fr Mourad told him. “Through communion today and the opportunity to celebrate mass with you, it is not my desire but Christ’s that is being realized. He wants to be with you and to bring you hope.
Lahib smiled and thanked him again.
On Holy Thursday, Bishop Bizzeti addressed a gathering of 250 Christians meeting in an overdecorated marriage hall.
“The genuine church is not built of cathedrals but of a community assembled in spite of everything,” he said.
After mass, people had to leave rapidly because the hall had only been rented for two hours. Outside it was raining and everyone quickly dispersed.
And so Youssef welcomed the two priests to his own home for the evening. It was an opportunity to discuss the difficulties of the community.
Theological issues also emerged and, through them, the desire to be able to justify their faith to the Muslim community, with the issue of the Holy Trinity at the forefront of their concerns.
Meanwhile, delicately but firmly, Bishop Bizzeti attempted to bring the families around to a more realistic appreciation of their chances of obtaining a visa. Privately, he also returned to the issue of exile.
“I have great admiration for these men and women who have maintained their deep faith in such difficult times,” he explained.
“However, they need to understand that only a minority will be able to leave and that they need to find a means to establish themselves now in this country,” he said.
The only room that really serves as a church is at Kayseri is a third-floor office in a building in the center of town. The local Protestant community has arranged space there and obtained approval for it from local authorities.
It was here that the Easter services were celebrated on Saturday afternoon in order to allow some people to come from the cities previously visited – sometimes after a long bus trip.
The Easter service took place without a cross or a procession. At the end of each mass and even more so on Saturday, joy and gratitude were visible on the faces of many.
“These people are here because they are conscious of their right to life and they have a solid faith,” concluded Fr Mourad as he prepared to leave Turkey. “The celebration of the resurrection strengthens the hope they have in their hearts.”