The Register's Mission in Iraq

Register correspondent James Brandon was blindfolded and shirtless in photos his Basra, Iraq, kidnappers sent to the media.

He had only just begun to write for us — his first assignment appeared in the issue dated Aug. 15-21 — when he was captured in Basra on Aug. 13 by Islamic militants who threatened to kill him.

He was freed within 24 hours.

Brandon told reporters, “Initially I was treated roughly, but once they knew I was a journalist, I was treated very well.”

After the harrowing ordeal, which left him with a black eye, Register readers may not hear again from him soon. When reporters asked what he might do now, the Londoner answered with a weak smile and said: “I might take a holiday.”

Brandon, who writes for several publications, knows how lucky he was. The story he wrote for us was his account of the Church bombings in Iraq.

He reported on the suffering of Christians at the hands of Islamic extremists — and also their gratitude for the help they received from Muslim neighbors.

The truth is, there is a spiritual battle going on in Iraq as fierce as the violence of combat and terrorism. The Register has been engaged in this spiritual battle from the beginning — and we're about to send reinforcements.

Thanks to our correspondents, we've accomplished a lot in Iraq, journalistically. We conducted exclusive interviews with the bishops of Baghdad on the first day of combat. We looked at the war with commentators from many perspectives. And we provided interviews with chaplains on the ground during combat — interviews that ended up being quoted by many others in the national news media.

But we can thank the generosity of readers and for our spiritual contributions in Iraq: We printed and delivered tens of thousands of our Guide to the Rosary to troops.

The covers of the military editions of our booklets are printed in desert camouflage, so that they can be used in the field. Inside, the content is the same as in our popular Guide to the Rosary (see ad on page 2).

Our military rosary booklets were in high demand in Iraq. Father Timothy Vakoc, the Catholic chaplain who was critically wounded by a roadside bomb May 30 used to deliver the booklets to troops.

We have heard reports from those returning from Iraq that some of the most famous photos Saddam Hussein statues being taken down feature marines who were carrying our rosary guides at the time.

U.S. Military Archbishop Edwin O'Brien has asked twice that Catholic military personnel use the booklets not just for themselves, but as a means for evangelizing their Protestant brothers and sisters.

“Might I recommend that our Catholics make these meditations available to the many young non-Catholics invariably attracted to the mystery of Our Lady's Rosary?” he wrote last year. In fact, friends in the military tell us that Protestant Christians have been reading the booklets, appreciating their use of scripture.

Now it's time for reinforcements. This August, we plan to reprint the military edition of the Guide to the Rosary and send tens of thousands more copies to Iraq.

With the help of — and the parishioners of two California parishes, Sacred Heart Church in Palm Desert and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Indio — we'll be able to send 32,000 more copies. We would love to be able to send more.

The U.S. military archdiocese would love it if we could, too.

“The first edition was created in the spring of 2003,” wrote Archbishop O'Brien earlier this month. “Thousands of copies of the Guide were mailed to Catholic troops overseas. Demand was so great, that our supply was soon exhausted.”

Register development director Michael Lambert is raising money to pay for yet another military printing of the Guide to the Rosary. Send donations or inquiries to:

Michael Lambert

Register Rosary Mission

432 Washington Avenue

North Haven, CT 06473

[email protected]

(800) 356-9916 x3805