On Sunday Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, at the killing of four of their sisters in Aden, the port city of Yemen, on March 4.
Departing from his prepared text, he hailed these sisters who were caring for the elderly in this war stricken land as “the martyrs of our day” and said, “They were killed by their attackers, but also by the globalization of indifference.”
Francis, who has apparently been deeply moved by the incident, told the faithful Sunday that the nuns “gave their blood for the Church” and that they were not only victims of the attackers but also of “this indifference of globalization.”
His words about “the globalization of indifference” are understood to refer not only to the general indifference to the attacks on Christians in this region but also to the great indifference of the international community to the year-long civil war in this impoverished country, which has brought it to the brink of catastrophe. The previous day he expressed the hope that “this pointless slaughter will awaken consciences, lead to a change of heart and inspire all parties to lay down their arms and take up the path of dialogue.”
One of martyred sisters, Sister Anselm, was from India; the other three were from Africa: Sisters Margherite and Reginette from Rwanda and Sister Judith from Kenya. “Their names do not appear on the front page of the newspapers, but they gave their blood for the church,” Francis stated.
“I pray for them and for the other persons killed in the attack, and for their family members,” he added. He prayed that Mother Teresa—whom he will declare a saint in September—“may accompany into paradise these here daughters, martyrs of charity, and intercede for peace and the sacred respect of human life.”
The Vatican said he was “shocked and profoundly saddened” by the incident.
The nuns were among 16 people killed Friday by gunmen who stormed a retirement home run by a charity established by Mother Teresa. Officials and witnesses in Yemen said gunmen moved room to room handcuffing the victims before shooting them in the head.
A nun who survived and was rescued by locals said that she hid inside a fridge in a storeroom after hearing a Yemeni guard shouting, “Run, run.”
Sunita Kumar, a spokeswoman for the Missionaries of Charity in the Indian city of Kolkata, said the members of the charity were “absolutely stunned” at the killing.
“The Sisters were to come back but they opted to stay on to serve people” in Yemen, she added.
She also said that two of the killed nuns were from Rwanda and the other two were from India and Kenya.