08/01/2005, 00.00
IRAQ
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The Church in Iraq does not give in to terrorism

A year ago terrorist attacks were carried out against five churches—St Paul's Church in Mosul was one of them. Today the Chaldean Bishop celebrated a mass to commemorate the event. "The Church is much better today [. . .] we have learnt to put into practice values like forgiveness".

Mosul (AsiaNews) – Mosul's Chaldean community today remembered last year's August 1 terrorist attacks that struck four churches in Baghdad and one in this northern Iraqi city. Twelve months later, the local Church is trying to rise from its ashes through forgiveness and love.

Mgr Paulos Faraj Rahho, the Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, celebrated mass this morning in the Church of St Paul—the church that was hit that day.

A year ago to the day, the terrorists blew up a car full of explosive that killed two people at its entrance.

In his message, the prelate was full of hope. "The Church is much better today than before the attack. That violence tested our faith and in a year we have learnt to put into practice values like forgiveness and love, even for those who persecute us", he said.

Right after the attack, forgiveness and brotherhood with Muslims was the first reaction of the community, an archdiocesan priest said.

Two banners were place at the front of the church, that read: "Lord, forgive them for they know not what they do. We shall continue to pray for love and peace. In Iraq, Christians and their Muslim brothers: one people that sings love and peace". (See photo)

During the homily, the Archbishop addressed the attackers, telling them: "You tried to destroy our churches for no reason, but our Lord taught us to love and forgive you as well as pray for you. We have no resentment towards you; we have no enemies".

Archbishop Rahho proclaimed August 1 the Parish of St Paul's Day —a memorial mass will be celebrated every year on this day to commemorate the attacks.

The first communions that are being celebrated at this time of the year are a sign of strength and hope for this community that war and threats have not cowed. On August 6, 63 children will in fact receive the Eucharist for the first time. (MA)

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