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Christians flee torture and death. Churches and sacred sites being destroyed.

To the Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese of Honolulu

Dear Friends:

Peace be with you!

We are all aware of the grave crisis in Iraq, in which Christians and other religious minorities who have lived there for centuries, are being tortured, killed, and forced to flee their homes by the terrorism of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).  Churches and other sacred sites that have been revered for centuries are being destroyed.  Pope Francis and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have issued pleas for the international community to intervene in this situation, which is spreading like a plague and wreaking much destruction and human suffering.   Urgent prayer and action is needed to help our brothers and sisters affected by this violence.  The USCCB has asked that Sunday, August 17, 2014, be devoted to special prayers for this situation.

I realize that August 17 is coming upon us quickly, so if it is more effective, August 24 or August 31 could be days of prayer and fasting for an end to this religious persecution.

Here are some things that can be done:

1. Pray for peace and justice

  • Use the following prayer, adapted from His Beatitude Louis Rafael Sako, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq:

    the plight of Iraq
    is deep and the suffering of Christians
    is severe and frightening.
    Therefore, we ask you, Lord
    to spare their lives, and to grant them patience

  • Use the following as a Prayer of the Faithful:

    That all the world may be attentive to the severe suffering of the Christians of Iraq, so that their lives may be spared, that they may be patient, and that we will work diligently to protect their freedom.
  • On the Sunday designated for special prayers, permission is given in the Diocese of Honolulu for priests to use the following texts from the Missal, along with the readings assigned for the day: 

    Eucharistic Prayer for Use in Masses for Various Needs III; from Masses and Prayer for Various Needs and Occasions, #I, 19, For Persecuted Christians.

2. Study the situation. 

The following resources should be helpful in getting started.  (NOTE:  All these links will be posted on the website of the Diocese of Honolulu:  www.catholichawaii.org.

3.  Give humanitarian aid through the Knights of Columbus.

KOC will give matching funds for contributions up to $500,000.  See the following for donation information:  http://www.kofc.org/un/en/news/releases/detail/kofc-fund-help-christians-iraq.html

Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us!

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Larry Silva
Bishop of Honolulu