London, Jun 19, 2008 / 06:26 pm (CNA).- In a Mass celebrated on June 16 at the Cathedral of Westminster, the president of the Committee on External Affairs of the Bishopsâ€™ Conference of England and Wales, Bishop Roger Francis Hollis, said that despite the violence and persecution of Muslim extremists, â€œthe light of the faith is aliveâ€ in Iraqi Christians.
According to Lâ€™Osservatore Romano, Bishop Hollis recently visited the Iraqi towns of Erbil, Kirkuk and Sulemanyiah. His visit came just days after the kidnapping and killing of the Archbishop of Mosul, Paulos Faraj Rahho.
During his homily at the Mass celebrated in London by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-Oâ€™Connor, Bishop Hollis denounced the violence in Iraq and â€œthe killing of laypeople and priests by Muslim extremists has been systematically and deliberately carried out.â€
Addressing the hundreds of Iraqi Christians present at the Cathedral of Westminster, the bishop explained that his trip to Iraq allowed him â€œto share the faith with your bishops, priests and fellow citizens. I felt very encouraged and strengthened by their courage and fidelity.â€
Bishop Hollis said that during his visit to the seminary of Ankawa, where he met with 27 seminarians, â€œWe had a very beneficial time with them, their professors and the community of religious who fearlessly and untiringly work for the spread of the Gospel. Our gathering here today, for this Eucharistic celebration, reminds us of the people they are serving and is a desperate prayer to the Lord for the gift of peace for a profoundly troubled country.â€
Speaking to the Iraqis present at the Mass, Bishop Hollis said, â€œI will always remember being among a people for whom the light of the faith is alive. For me it has been a blessing to experience all of this. As it often happens, I think that during my first visit to Iraq I have received more than I have been able to give. I will return soon but today we should pray in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Iraq, we should pray for peace, for your country.â€