There was an attack on Christians in Iraq yesterday; a hostage-taking incident at Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Baghdad. It left at least 58 people dead, 78 wounded, an entire minority community traumatized further still, and a nation left wounded yet again.
First of all, as we know all too well now, my fellow Filipino compatriots, the act of taking innocent lives hostage is condemnable. Because life, above all human life, is non-negotiable.
Second, the persecution of any minority community in any nation defeats all four of the Four Faithful Causes upon which all nations under God is established in all its ages unto fruition in time and in eternity. Because the craft of all nations is peace.
Lastly, a Republic is a guardian to its people. Any perceived inability to preserve its own body politic against war is a weakening of its own destiny. And I mean the word "war" here in the context of the spirit of war which is division in all its forms.
Needless to say, I personally condemn this atrocious crime not just because I am a Christian but because I myself am a citizen of a Republic undertaking of Country and a human being.
I will not rail against it neither will I repay it with evil. It only makes me even more determined to help strengthen the institutions within my own Country against forces hostile to our peace and to pray that the good people of Iraq may also come to complete their own remembrances in their own due time, God-willing. What benefits one - in a family of nations - benefits all.
I grieve with the victims, they and those whose lives and promise were so abruptly taken from them shall be in my prayers to God in Holy Mass today, All Souls' Day.
I recognize their hopes for a better Iraq, and know that amidst all that disorder, this lineage is what must remain for that embattled nation. So I especially enjoin the youth of that land and all lands likewise divided by war and torn by strife, including our own Filipino youth, to trace upon this forgetful night, thy Arcs in the Sky:
the heavens above thee
seemingly unconscious to thy self
is never without its seeing
nor the unseen realms
that embrace and penetrate thee
amidst this unfeeling earth
without its desire for each thy precious company,
this evil is only allowed to tarry for a time,
for We are nearer to each of thee,
our beloved Starshine,
than you can ever imagine.
Keep thee a record,
an account of thy heart,
most especially those of thee
who are in the midst of conflicts
those of thee who are
no less loved than the rest of us
sorely affected by the curse of War
for the heavens reign true
to the remembrance of thy longings
and so it is for the needful earth
that you shall begin to write,
O precious Starshine,
and upon this forgetful night
let thy starlight be shed
to trace upon the darkness
thy arcs in the sky.
My fellow Filipino compatriots, let us say mabuhay, peace unto the nation of Iraq and continue to complete our own remembrances. We have much to do - together this time.
Let us continue to be vigilant and to pray for peace.
Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! God bless us all.