The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has paid tribute to those killed in yesterday’s Iraqi church attack.
Over 50 people died after security forces stormed a Catholic church in Baghdad in a botched attempt to free Iraqi Catholics who had been captured by gunmen linked to al-Qaeda.
The Rt Rev John Christie said: “It is impossible to comprehend the shocking tragedy which has taken place at the Church of our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad, and to comprehend the thinking which provoked this outrage. I can find no words which adequately offer solace for the families bereaved in such tragic circumstances nor indeed any words which will offer any adequate comfort for those who survived this dreadful incident."
“All we can do in such circumstances is to commend those who have been bereaved and those who have survived to the love and grace and peace of Christ and assure them of the prayers and thoughts of us all,” he said.
A news release from the Church of Scotland also highlighted the importance of standing alongside fellow Christians facing violence and abuse.
At this year’s General Assembly the Church of Scotland’s World Mission Council called on congregations to show solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world.
In 1800, an estimated 2,500 Christians died as a result of opposition to their faith. In 2009 this figure rose to 176,000, said the Kirk.
The council’s report said believers in partner churches come under severe pressure because of their minority status and urged Scottish churches to help in whatever way they can.
Among the recommendations were increased pastoral support, communication, lobbying, prayer and inter-religious dialogue.
Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Christian community in Iraq has almost halved in size - with al Qaeda and other militants accusing them, against the evidence, of being Western stooges.