Saturday, May 19, 2012


...and unforgettable NIGHT OF WITNESS organised by Aid to the Church in Need at Westminster to pray for all who are persecuted for their Christian faith. Watch the highlights here. Things began with a beautiful Mass in a packed Westminster Cathedral: Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi preached and a large number of priests concelebrated with Bishop Declan Lang, and then the vast crowds spilled out into the piazza for a rally with speeches, music, dance, and prayer that sent out a powerful and very moving message. We were welcomed by Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, and speakers included Bishop Joannes Zakaria of Luxor, Egypt, Archbishop Coutts,and Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali former Anglican Bishop of Rochester.There was music from the West End Gospel Choir and from the group Ooberfuse which sang at World Youth Day. On a great screen we watched news features about the abuse and cruelties suffered by Christians in Pakistan, Egypt, Nigeria, and elsewhere. As the rally drew to its climax, a team from the British Pakistani Christian Association carried a great cross around the piazza and we all slowly followed along behind, flowing into the cathedral where a candlelit Vigil of Prayer was held. This was possibly the most moving part of the whole event: we prayed the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary , and as each Mystery was announced, a candle was lit and a particular victim or group of victims of persecution was commemorated. Thus we commemorated Fr Ragheed Ganni from Iraq and Shabbaz Bhatti from Pakistan, and the victims of a Christmas Day church bombing in each Mystery, the Our Father was prayed in a different language (Urdu, Aramaic...) and then the congregation prayed the familiar Hail Marys in English. A magnificent and powerful event: no one who was there will ever forget it.

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