Sisters martyrs in Yemen

March 08, 2016
Source: District of the USA

A few days ago, several Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity were killed by Muslims in Yemen.

On March 4, 2016 an attack led by a Muslim group against a Missionaries of Charity convent and nursing home left 16 dead, 4 of whom were sisters.

"I express my closeness to the Missionaries of Charity for the great loss that affected them two days ago with the killing of four religious in Aden, Yemen, where they assisted the elderly,” Pope Francis said on March 6.

The sisters who were killed “are the martyrs of today…they gave their blood for the Church, (yet) they are not in the papers, they are not news,” and Francis lamented that the sisters are not only the victims of their killers, but “also of indifference, of this globalization of indifference, which doesn't care.”

On March 4 an attack led by Muslim group at a Missionaries of Charity convent and nursing home for the elderly and disabled persons in Aden, the provisional capital of Yemen, left 16 dead.

Four of the victims were sisters of the Missionaries of Charity, the community founded by Bl. Mother Teresa. They have been identified as Sr. Anselm from India, Sr. Margherite from Rwanda, Sr. Reginette from Rwanda, and Sr. Judith from Kenya.

According to their rules, Missionaries of Charity say St. Ignatius’ prayer after the morning Mass and before breakfast. It would have been their last prayer before the attack:

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous. To serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for reward…"

Other victims of the attack included volunteers at the home, at least 5 of whom were Ethiopian. Many were Yemenis. The nursing home had around 80 residents, who were unharmed.

Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, a Salesian priest from India who had been staying with the sisters since his church was attacked and burned last September, has been missing since the attack, Agenzia Fides reports. Sources close to CNA say the priest was abducted from the convent chapel.

Bishop Paul Hinder, who serves as apostolic vicar of the Arabian Peninsula, said he has no doubt they died as martyrs:

For me there is no doubt that the sisters have been victims of hatred—hatred against our faith… The Missionaries of Charity died as martyrs: as martyrs of charity, as martyrs because they witnessed Christ and shared the lot of Jesus on the Cross.”

Although he doesn't like to speak of reasons “for an unreasonable act,” Bishop Hinder would be difficult not to see that the event was motivated by “a misled religious mind.”

So far no one has claimed responsibility for the attack but it is believed that it has been carried out by members of either Al Qaeda or ISIS. Bishop Hinder said that he believes the sisters were a target because certain radical groups in the country “simply do not support the presence of Christians who serve the poorest of the poor.” Unidentified attackers bombed a Catholic church in Aden in December 2015.

Missionaries of Charity have been present in Yemen since 1973 after the then Government of North Yemen formally invited them to care for the sick and elderly. The home in Aden has been open since 1992.

"There are groups, especially in Aden region, who are not under control of the regular government and try to destabilize the country and to terrorize the people,” said Bishop Hinder.

He notes that the few remaining Catholics will soon “have no other choice than to remain as discreet as possible” and try to wait for peace to be reinstalled. It is “impossible” to give an exact number of Catholics left in Yemen, but he estimated that they are less than 4,000 in all of Yemen.

Let us pray fervently for the persecuted Christian brothers. As Bishop Hinder puts it:

As Christians we believe that Golgotha is not the end, but the Risen Lord who will have the final word at the last judgment.”

Source: Catholic News Agency