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6 October 2013
posted by Canon Dakin on 08-10-2013

I have never heard any opinion expressing a good outcome from the war in Iraq. Speaking personally the advantage that I gained was the sharpening of my geographical awareness. I have a better idea of where these places are.   It helps to unravel the O.T.  Babylon was in modern Iraq and the Persians in what is now Iran.  And 500 years before Our Lord was born they were at war. Nothing new under the sun. The problem for the Jews  was that  when the Babylonians and the Persians, like the Assyrians before them, fell out with the Egyptians, Jerusalem was in the way and because the Jewish kings were not sufficiently skilled in diplomacy Jerusalem was repeatedly attacked.  We heard this morning a cry to God for help. ‘Hang on in there’ wsa the reply.  Have faith - which means ‘Be loyal to me and I will be you help’

It’s said sometimes that Christianity in this country is under siege. After the same sex marriage legislation one of our bishops is reported to have said: “As Catholics, like Israel in Egypt, we now find ourselves in an alien land that speaks a foreign language, with unfamiliar customs”. There have been some men and women who have lost their jobs through being too overtly Christian in the opinion of their employers, but no one in this country, in our life time, has been faced with the choice: deny your faith or die. It is happening in so many places abroad. In one of the papers this week there was a review of a book: The Global War on Christians. In Syria Christians have joined the exodus of refugees because they have been targeted by radical elements among the rebels; the same is happening in Iraq, in Egypt, in Pakistan, in Sri Lanka, in Sudan.  You may have noticed that about a fortnight ago there was a brief notice in the media of a bomb that killed more than fifty people as they came out of church in Pakistan, an Anglican church, on a Sunday morning.

So many incidents simply go unnoticed - the bombing and torching of churches and of  Christians’  homes. These people really are on the front line. Their faith is being severly tested.  For a quiet life what they have to do is to declare themselves Muslim converts.  For so many it is impossible to uproot themselves and move abroad. Aid to the Church in Need tries to reach them where they are but when, as this morning, we are giving to Cafod, which cares for refugees, it is good, perhaps, to be aware that we are not only helping to feed those who are entirely reliant on aid but that so many have ended up in refugee camps in order to sustain their families in their Christian faith.

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