Friday, February 2, 2007

The witness of Hrant Dink

The most appropriate words spoken last week at the funeral of Hrant Dink, were not by the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, Mesrob II Mutafian, who presided at the liturgy, but by Dink's wife, Rakel afterwords. These are her words, translated by Asia News, the news service provided by the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, to the hundreds of thousands, Jew, Christian, and Muslim who paid tribute to this silenced voice of conscience.

On the day of his funeral, before hundreds of thousands, Rakel stepped to the microphone and with great courage spoke words from chapter 15 of St. John's Gospel which brought the entire gathering to tears: "No-one has a greater love than this. To lay down his life for his friends".

"It is from these words of Christ and from this deeply held belief that we today find our strength our peace," she said in a broken voice. She continued, "Thank you for your silence which sustains and comforts us. Thank you for not having made slogans. Today our love for Hrant is shown by our silence without ideological or religious slogans. You tell me that Hrant was a great man. Yes he was great because his thoughts were great, his dreams were great, his heart was great…

"In silence, you are recounting out loud his love and his dedication and in this way you are making his voice heard. Continue fearless in your loving. Do not close your hearts and minds. Insist on your freedom to the very end. For a love that does not humiliate that does not despise or envy, that forgets fear, that does not crush or kill but rather lets itself be killed: it is by living this love that you will encounter eternity just as the soul which has left the body that lies before you now, a body separated from its children its nieces and nephews, friends, separated from my arms, but not from its nation."

After her brief words, she and their children all wearing white scarves, in a moving gesture, released four white doves in memory of their husband and father who, as beautifully described by Mavi Zambak of Asia News, "two weeks ago described himself as a dove who picks his way among the crowds in fear of being crushed but who is free and able to lift himself in flight to soar above all others." Rest in the Peace of Christ and, with your fellow martyr, Fr. Andrea Santoro, pray for Turkey, for the triumph of love and peace, for truth-telling that must always precede any reconciliation.

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