Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo
A bishop from Syria and the leader of the Catholic Church in Nigeria are to give first-hand testimonies at Aid to the Church in Need's annual Westminster Mass and Event on Saturday 20th October.
Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo in Syria and Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, have accepted invitations to be keynote speakers at the event. The bishops’ visit to the UK will go ahead subject to security considerations.
The day begins at 10.30am with sung Mass in Westminster Cathedral celebrated by Archbishop Antonio Mennini, Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain. After the service, the Nuncio will make introductory comments at the start of an afternoon of talks in Westminster Cathedral Hall, where Archbishop Kaigama and Bishop Audo will give the main speeches.
Neville Kyrke-Smith, Aid to the Church in Need's UK Director, will lead the event in the hall. He said: “It is a great privilege for Aid to the Church in Need to have Bishop Antoine Audo and Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama come for the Mass and address our friends and benefactors. To be Catholic involves sharing our faith and standing in solidarity with the suffering Church throughout the world.”
Bishop Audo and Archbishop Kaigama will give updates about the crisis facing Christians and others in their respective countries and there will be reports on how Aid to the Church in Need is providing urgent assistance, especially pastoral support.
Bishop Audo, who has been Chaldean-rite Bishop of Aleppo since 1992, has worked closely with Aid to the Church in Need over the past few months in co-ordinating Caritas humanitarian relief for people desperate for food, medicine, clothes and shelter.
Christians in Syria have experienced extreme suffering, with people forced to flee en masse and in late August, extremists ransacked the residences of two other Catholics prelates in Aleppo – the Greek Catholic Melkite archbishop and the Maronite archbishop.
In interviews with Aid to the Church in Need earlier this year, Bishop Audo said: “The Christians don’t know what their future will hold. It is very important that we do whatever we can to help the people.”
Archbishop Kaigama’s Archdiocese of Jos, in eastern Nigeria, is victim to some of the worst atrocities by Islamist group Boko Haram, which is blamed for attacks on state institutions and churches where the militants have carried out suicide bomb missions targeting Sunday worshippers.
Ordained a priest aged only 22 and a bishop at barely 36, Archbishop Kaigama now has a tough assignment to seek justice but quash calls to retaliate in so-called self defence.
In past Aid to the Church in Need interviews, Archbishop Kaigama has said: “The rampant attacks show that government security is not working [and that it] is not able to cope with the security situation. We feel quite apprehensive as a result.”
The Westminster Event at which both bishops will be speaking will also feature talks by Mr Kyrke-Smith, John Pontifex, the charity's Head of Press and Information, and Regina Lynch, the charity's Director of Projects, based at the charity’s international headquarters in Germany.
Those attending the event will be able to leave early to attend the 3pm Blessed Sacrament Procession from Westminster Cathedral to St George’s Cathedral, Southwark.
To book your ticket for the Westminster Event, priced £5 each, please call 020 8642 8668 or book online: http://www.acnuk.org/form.php/183/westminster-event-2012-booking-form