Photo: A few Sisters of the Congregation of Mother Teresa
They gave bread “and received gunfire”
The Church deplores the world’s indifference to the murder of four nuns in Yemen
Montreal/Königstein, 15 Mar. 2016 – The Catholic Church on the Arabian Peninsula deplores the indifference that the people of the world have shown in response to the nuns murdered in Yemen. In Aden in early March, four nuns of the order founded by the Blessed Mother Teresa (to be made Saint this coming September as recently announced by the Holy See) whose work involved the care of the elderly and disabled, as well as twelve employees were presumably murdered by Islamic extremists.
…”they can quite unequivocally be called martyrs.”
A monk native to India has been missing since then. In an interview with the Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Bishop Camillo Ballin, who is responsible for the northern part of the region, commented that neither the media nor politics has expressed any interest in the incidents. “No one has lifted a finger. It doesn’t interest anyone when it is Christianity that is under attack. The same thing happened to Jesus. They all abandoned him. And this is what is now happening to the church.” Bishop Ballin, who is head of the Bahrain-based Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia, said that a normal Muslim could not approve of this kind of massacre.
The Italian bishop emphasized that the four nuns of Mother Teresa’s order were slain out of hatred for the Christian faith. “Thus, they can quite unequivocally be called martyrs.” Bishop Ballin then said that the nuns have now joined three fellow nuns of the order who were murdered in Yemen in 1998. “The congregation of Mother Teresa has seven nuns in Yemen, who, I believe, can quite unequivocally be called martyrs.”
Bishop Ballin feels that the martyrdom of the nuns reflects the vitality of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa. “The martyrdom of these nuns is a confirmation to us that her congregation continues to be close to Jesus. Because anyone who draws near to Jesus is always bound to His suffering and His death, which was followed by resurrection.” In this sense, the Christians in this region are called upon to bear witness to Jesus by suffering violence, he continued.
Bread for everybody, like Christ
According to Bishop Ballin, the road of the Christian is that of Christ, and therefore that of the cross, of death and resurrection.“These nuns gave bread to the elderly and disabled Muslims living in their facility. In return, they received gunfire. But God is not absent. He sees everything and knows what He is doing. These fanatics, who have perpetrated this so heinous crime, have basically declared to the entire world that these nuns were very close to Jesus. So close that they shared in His end and were also killed themselves.”
However, the death of these nuns was not the end, just as the death of Jesus was not His end. “It was followed by resurrection,” the bishop declared. “The same can be said for these nuns. Their sacrifice was not only made for their personal resurrection, but also for their congregation and for those whom they served, for Yemen and for their murderers.”
The bishop believes that God alone has the capacity to enter the hearts of these inhuman fanatics. “I am convinced that the sacrifice these nuns made will also prove itself valuable to these hearts of stone that continue to spread hate and malice.”
Yemen is currently the scene of a bloody conflict in which both religious and tribal rivalries play a role. According to information provided by the United Nations, the fighting has led to the internal displacement of more than 2.4 million people. Since March 2015, neighbouring Saudi Arabia has been intervening on behalf of the government, which is beleaguered by Huthi rebels. Jihadist groups are also active, primarily in the southern parts of the country. In December, jihadists blew up a Catholic church.
Article by Oliver Maksan, ACN International
Adaptation: Amanda Griffin, ACN Canada