I didn't want this story to go unnoticed. Prayers for them all:
Mosul (Agenzia Fides) – A 3-year-old Christian child died after a bomb attack on a Christian home in Mosul. This is what Fides sources in Mosul said, noting that "there is still fear amongst the Christian community."
The attack was made against the house of Ramzy Balbole, a painter with a wife and three children. A bomb was placed near his house and exploded on the morning of Saturday, March 27, injuring his wife and three children and causing severe damage to housing. The injured were taken to the hospital, but the little child died as a result of injury. "Yet another event to mourn in this Holy Week in the Christian community of Mosul. Christians are under attack and, like Simon of Cyrene, are helping Christ to carry the Cross, sharing in his Passion," note the sources of Fides.
"We are waiting for better times. The faithful are terrified. But the word of the day is 'hope,' always and in every circumstance," Fides was told in an interview with Archbishop George Casmoussa, Syrian Catholic Archbishop of the city. "We will celebrate Easter in this situation of suffering and fear. Our churches will not be crowded, as they would usually be, as many Christian families have fled the city and many faithful will remain at home for fear of attacks. But, they continue to hope in God, in Jesus Christ, in His Resurrection, as He leads us as Iraqi Christians to rise with Him. We continue to pray for the future of peace in our country," Archbishop Casmoussa told Fides.
"Given the recent political developments, we are hoping now in a strong government whose only plan is to bring peace and justice to Iraq. We want a government that defends the interests of religious, ethnic or political factions, seeking the common good of the country, because Iraq belongs to everyone," said the Archbishop.
And elsewhere, another indication that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church:
The Catholic Church in Pakistan has experienced a "miracle of survival and growth", with a surge of vocations and ever larger numbers joining the faith in spite of increasing threats from Islamic extremists.
Seminary numbers are at a 15-year high, a new Catholic television channel has been launched and Catholic numbers continue to rise, according to a fact-finding mission by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
With increasing pressure to conform to a strict Islamic culture and dress code, Church leaders said the Christian faithful felt threatened by a growing tide of intolerance, especially in rural areas and in the north of the country, an extremist stronghold thought to be the current home of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
John Pontifex, spokesman for ACN, said: "It's the miracle of survival and growth. There are so many good men and women wishing to give their life to the Church. They see the Church as champion of a happier and freer Pakistan, and some of them are highly educated guys who could have done anything they wanted. Time and again during this visit, we were moved by the plight of the Christian faithful. I was shocked by the scale of suffering Christians and other minorities now experience in Pakistan.
"Their experience of discrimination, oppression and sometimes outright persecution is made worse by grinding poverty and a climate of increasing fanaticism and intolerance. The chances of incidents of this kind spilling over into violence are more likely than before."
And yet, the Church grows. Prayers from this side of the world, and may we find the courage we need to be faithful in all circumstances.