Atrocities and Innocents: A call to prayer by the Primate

In our time in history, terrible crimes against humanity are claiming more and more innocent victims.

Last week, the world witnessed horrific images of Syrian children foaming at the mouth, convulsing and dying in the arms of their sobbing mothers and fathers. Their deaths were brought on by yet another round of the use of chemical weapons in the long and bloody conflict that has savaged Syria for six years, claiming the lives of some 400,000 people.

Last night, the world witnessed the aftermath of bomb blasts in two Coptic Christian Churches in Egypt, St. George’s Church in Tanta and St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria. Forty-four people were killed and scores of others injured. Their blood was splattered over the white washed walls and floors of their beautiful churches, where the faithful in Christ have worshipped for centuries.

All of this carnage and chaos marked the beginning of liturgies remembering The Lord’s Passion and Death. This will be a very difficult Holy Week for Coptic Christians, not only in Egypt where there will be multiple funerals, but throughout the world as they mourn the dead and pray for those wounded and traumatized by this vicious attack.

With them I ask your prayers for Pope Tawadros II and all the clergy and faithful of his flock and for the leaders of other Churches in Egypt as well, including Archbishop Mouneer Anis, the Primate of The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East. Pray for their friendship in Christ and for their efforts to bear a common witness to the faith they share.

I ask your prayers for the departed that they be received into the arms of Christ’s mercy.

I ask your prayers for all who grieve, and all who are in spiritual turmoil at this time, that they may find consolation in the sufferings of Christ and hope in his triumph over the forces of evil and death.

In his reflection on “The Holy Innocents” of Herod’s fury and rage, Stephen Reynolds writes, “we live in an age of atrocities, in a time infamous for the slaughter of innocent bystanders who never chose the causes for which they have been made to die.” In remembering them, Reynolds says “we perform an office for them and all other victims of massacre. We become their voice and cry out for God to remember the slaughtered – and to remember them for the sake of Christ, himself the great Innocent who was crucified by the ‘rulers of this age’” (p. 46, For All the Saints).

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Archbishop and Primate
The Anglican Church of Canada

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