Like many of you, I have been horrified by the news stories about the persecuted communities in Iraq, especially the Christian and Yazidi communities in northern Iraq, and have been praying for all those affected. Can this really be happening in our world today? Can it really be true that children are being beheaded, that families are fleeing into the mountains, only to die of starvation and dehydration? I watched a heartbreaking episode on the news yesterday afternoon, where helicopters that were delivering food and water to those stranded on the mountain made an impromptu rescue of about 20 people. The newscaster was one of the rescuers, and said that it was “first come first serve,” that parents were handing their children onto the helicopter, not knowing whether they would ever see each other again, and that it was simply heartbreaking. The footage of those rescued showed broken human beings, many of whom were sobbing, others who were clearly in shock, and the fear was palpable on all of their faces. Many other parts of the world are also in crisis right now – just look at the situations in Israel, Syria, and Ukraine, among others – and it can be difficult for us to know what we can do from halfway across the world. Here I am, a mother in the United States who is getting her kids ready to go back to school, and yet I know that my brothers and sisters across the world are living a nightmare. What am I to do?
Pope Francis has asked us to pray, first and foremost, in specific ways for all of those who are suffering and who are losing hope. I also found the following comment by Professor Robert George to be helpful. He was asked by someone what we, as ordinary American citizens, can do in response to the situation in Iraq today. He says:
The U.S. needs to increase supplies of food, water, medicine, and other necessities to the victims of ISIS/ISIL atrocities who are now fleeing and in some cases stranded. Moreover, the U.S. needs to supply arms, ammunition, and strategic and intelligence support to the Kurdish fighters, Sunni tribesmen, and others who are resisting ISIS/ISIL and protecting civilian populations. Also, the U.S. MUST increase air support and intensify and expand its bombing of ISIS/ISIL forces. I cannot stress these points strongly enough. The situation is urgent…Please share this information with everyone at church and encourage them to pressure our elected representatives.
So, please join me in praying for all of those who are suffering and in crisis right now, and please share with us in the comments section if you have any other ideas on how we can help these poor people. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!