Church bells to ring across France to show solidarity with Middle East Christians

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by Jo-Anne Rowney
A Christian woman who fled from the violence in Mosul a year ago holds her daughter as her baby sleeps CNS
Six French dioceses will be joined by churches in Switzerland to highlight persecution
Church bells will be rung on the Feast of the Assumption to show solidarity with the persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

So far six French bishops have decided the bells will ring out in all churches in their diocese on Saturday, August 15, the Feast of the Assumption.

Launched by Archbishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon, the initiative calls on parishes to gather at noon to show their support for persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

It is hoped more churches will also take part, with Switzerland confirming Fribourg, Lausanne and Geneva will also ring their church bells tomorrow.

The date coincides with the dramatic events in Iraq a year ago – the fall of Mosul, then Qaraqosh, the country’s largest Christian town, and all the plain of Nineveh, the Christian heartland of Iraq.

Archbishop Jean-Pierre Cattenoz, archbishop of Avignon said the Feast Day of the Assumption was chosen as the Christians in the Middle East have a special devotion to the Virgin.

He said: “This is a gesture of prayer, solidarity, peace and faith. We believe it can have a real impact.”

He added this will be a prayer to ‘Our Lady who brings down the walls’.

“The walls that must fall are vast,” he said.

“Those that separate nations and peoples who are killing each other, but also those that divide communities, including in France.”

Clifton Cathedral in Bristol will ring the bells at 12.30pm on Sunday.