By Sarah Mac Donald - 15 June, 2014
In a statement, the Bishop of Dromore asked the faithful to remember in prayer the Christian communities, and all civilians, who are suffering from the current unrest in Iraq and also in Ukraine.
“Over the last few days the suddenness, intensity and fast pace of the sectarian conflict in northern Iraq has caught the world by surprise,” the Bishop said.
He continued, “It has the potential to destabilise the Middle East. The complexity of the religious and political issues involved requires the existence of a considered peace process for the region.”
Earlier this week during its Summer General Meeting in Maynooth, the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference discussed correspondence from Archbishop Sviatoslav, the Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halych in Ukraine.
Archbishop Sviatoslav thanked the faithful of Ireland for their “abiding prayer and various works of charity … [which] has supported with prayer and exhortation the yearning for peace and justice in Ukraine.”
At their meeting the bishops prayed for the people of Ukraine who have suffered greatly over the last six months.
The advance of the Islamist insurgents across Iraq, covering nearly 230kms in three days, raising fears of an imminent assault on Baghdad, appears to have stalled for the moment.
The insurgents are reported to have stopped 85kms north of the capital Baghdad, leaving residents in the city braced for a siege.
The militant group, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), led by rebel leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, have seized several other cities including the country’s second city, Mosul.
Their plan is to take Baghdad and press on to the Shiite heartland in southern Iraq.
The Sunni militia is one of several jihadist militias fighting the rule of Bashar al-Assad in neighbouring Syria and they regard Iraq’s Shia majority as “infidels”.
Separately, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said his government will retaliate after pro-Russia separatists shot down a military plane over the city of Luhansk in the east of the country, killing 49 people.
It is the biggest single loss of life suffered by Ukrainian government forces in Kiev since they began an operation to try to defeat the insurgency in the east of the country.