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Prayers offered after killing of nuns in Yemen

Posted on: March 7, 2016 9:50 AM
The Sisters of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, wear robes with distinctive blue stripes
Photo Credit: Flickr / BlažL

[ACNS] Four Roman Catholic nuns and 12 other staff and residents at a care home for the elderly in the Yemeni port city of Aden were killed on Friday in an attack that has been blamed on Daesh. The nuns were members of the Missionaries of Charity, the order founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The Anglican Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf, Bishop Michael Lewis, has expressed concern following the killing.

The Reuters news agency reports that four attackers told a guard they were visiting their mother before storming the home, opening fire with rifles. The guard was killed along with two nuns from Rwanda, one from Kenya and one from India. Two Yemeni women staff and eight elderly residents were also killed. Reports say that the victims were tied up before being killed.

A Roman Catholic priest who has been missing since Friday’s attack, is thought to be being held captive by the assailant, according to the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency.

“According to our information, the extremists who attacked the elderly care home in Aden have kidnapped priest Tom Uzhunnalil, a 56-year-old Indian, who was taken to an unknown location," a Yemeni security official told AFP. “We are aware that no group has yet claimed the criminal attack. . . but information points to the involvement of Daesh," the anonymous source said.

Bishop Michael Lewis said that the home cared for around 70 or 80 old elderly people, many of whom were found destitute on the streets.

“Doubtless the murderers are from the pernicious ultra-fundamentalist fanatical puritan strand of Islam that encompasses [Daesh] and takes inspiration from the Wahhabi sect,” Bishop Michael said. “Their actions will be met with revulsion by true Muslims, especially native Adenis, whose respect for the works of charity and service by Christians in their city is great.

“Hearing of these killings in the middle of the season of Lent, those of us who have often visited the sisters and prayed with them will reflect that all Christians are called to walk with Christ the way of the cross, and that that Way is none other than the way of glory and the gate of heaven.

“We join [Roman Catholic] Bishop Paul Hinder [of Southern Arabia], the Christians of the Yemen, and all who know God to be the God of mercy and compassion in praying for the eternal repose of the souls of these faithful departed servants of the Lord.”

In a statement, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said that “His Holiness Pope Francis was shocked and profoundly saddened to learn of the killing of four Missionaries of Charity and twelve others at a home for the elderly in Aden. He sends the assurance of his prayers for the dead and his spiritual closeness to their families and to all affected from this act of senseless and diabolical violence.

“He prays that this pointless slaughter will awaken consciences, lead to a change of heart, and inspire all parties to lay down their arms and take up the path of dialogue. In the name of God, he calls upon all parties in the present conflict to renounce violence, and to renew their commitment to the people of Yemen, particularly those most in need, whom the Sisters and their helpers sought to serve.

“Upon everyone suffering from this violence, the Holy Father invokes God’s blessing, and in special ways he extends to the Missionaries of Charity his prayerful sympathy and solidarity.”