BRANFORD – Responding to the U.S. bishops’ call for an Aug. 17 day of prayer in solidarity with persecuted Iraqi Christians, St. Mary Parish is distributing bumper stickers with the Arabic symbol that represents Christianity. The symbol is the Arabic letter N, which stands for Nazarene, a perjorative term for Christian in the Arabic language.
Father Christopher M. Ford, pastor, said he and parochial vicar Father Robert N. Landback wanted to raise awareness of the plight of Iraqi Christians, who are being persecuted by the ISIS militants in Iraq. The bumper sticker shows the Arabic symbol above the link “#WeAreN,” which can be accessed from Facebook or Twitter. He said it means “We are Christians too. We are in solidarity with Christians in Iraq.”
Below the hashtag link is a cross and the phrase, “We Stand with Iraqi Christians.”
“We are going to pray at Sunday Masses, and the bumper sticker is something they can put in their windows at home or on their cars, to raise awareness and remind us of the extraordinary freedom we have here to worship according to our conscience,” Father Ford said.
Archbishop Leonard P. Blair is urging the faithful of the Archdiocese of Hartford to pray for peace in Iraq on Aug. 17.
An entry in the Aug. 17 St. Mary's bulletin explains the symbol and adds, “ISIS militants have been spray-painting this symbol on the houses of Christians in Mosul to designate which houses to attack. The families are being threatened to convert to Islam or be killed. Many faithful men, women, and children have been martyred for the faith.”
Father Ford said, “It’s just an unspeakable situation right now, and so many of us Christians feel kind of helpless. We wanted to support them in any way we can and to increase awareness.”
He likened the spray-painting of the symbol on Christian homes to the Nazis’ singling out of Jews.
He said the genocide is horrific, and that “it isn’t getting the attention it deserves. People are just starting to become aware of it,” he said.