Church Bells in France to Ring for Persecuted Christians in the Mideast

 2015-08-15     Category: Church in Middle East

Fréjus-Toulon, Gap and Embrun, Bayonne, Avignon, Ajaccio, and now Digne … So far, six bishops have decided that the bells will ring in all the churches of their diocese on Saturday, August 15, 2015.

The faithful are called to gather in front of their churches at noon to show their brotherly support of the Eastern Christians who are prey to the wickedest persecutions because of their faith.

A year after the fall of Mosul and Qaraqosh

This initiative comes exactly a year after the dramatic events that Aleteia was among the first to relay, as early as August 7, 2014 : the fall of Mosul, then Qaraqosh and all the plain of Nineveh. The mass exodus of Christians on the roads and the massacre of Yezidis at mount Sinjar finally made the international public opinion react. But a year later, can we really say that there has been a true reaction to Daesh and the Syrian drama?

Launched by Archbishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon, this initiative has already been taken up by several other bishops, and by the Catholic Church in France. But this is just the beginning, hopefully: can we not dream of hearing all the bells of France ringing in honor of our persecuted brothers? Or, who knows, the bells of all the churches around the world?

Faced with the persecutions and massacres suffered by the Christians of the East, especially in Syria and Iraq, these dioceses want to express in this way their solidarity and pray for them. “This is a gesture of prayer, solidarity, peace and faith,” says Archbishop Jean-Pierre Cattenoz, archbishop of Avignon. “We believe it can have a real impact.” Sometimes one gesture can change everything…

Our Lady who brings down the walls

Why choose the date of August 15? First, because it coincides almost to the day with the dramatic events experienced by the Christians of Iraq. But above all it is on the day of the Feast of the Assumption that the bells will ring at noon and Christians as well as all “people of goodwill” will be invited to gather in front of their churches to pray silently for a few minutes before praying the Virgin Mary for peace in the region. 
 
“Easterners often have a strong devotion to Mary,” says Bishop Cattenoz, who specifies that this will be a prayer to “Our Lady who brings down the walls.” “The walls that must fall are vast: those that separate nations and peoples who are killing each other, but also those that divide communities, including in France.”

By Anacleth Hitayezu

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