The Abdallah family have received two standing ovations after an emotional speech at the Vatican, saying they forgive the man who killed their three children and niece.
Western Sydney couple Danny and Leila Abdallah were invited by the Pope to share their harrowing story with thousands of parishioners at the 2022 World Meeting of Families in Rome on Saturday.
Their three children Sienna, 8, Angelina, 12, Antony, 13, and niece Veronique Sakr, 11, were killed by Samuel William Davidson who was drunk and high on drugs while behind the wheel in Oatlands in February 2020.
Joined by their children Liana, 12, Alex, seven, Michael, six, and 14-week-old Selina, the Abdallahs spoke to a global audience on the eve of would have been Antony’s 16th birthday.
Ms Abdallah recalled the devastating moment she was informed of her children’s deaths, while Mr Abdallah explained why their family have chosen to forgive the man who caused the accident through the I4Give campaign the family has set up.
The family’s speech was so moving that the congregation was twice brought to their feet, with Australians in the crowd at the Vatican proudly displaying the national flag.
Bishops around the world were so moved by their story that the Abdallahs may also get a face-to-face meeting with the Pope himself, depending on his health.
“There’s been more than two years and I must choose to forgive myself and the driver every day, to not retreat into hatred,” Mr Abdallah told the Vatican and millions watching online.
“I choose to forgive myself for telling my kids to go for walk. I choose to forgive the offender in obedience to my Father in heaven.”
“If my children were here today, they would say ‘Dad, forgive him.'”
“When you forgive the other person, you start to heal.”
His wife Leila added, “I would not have imagined we would be in the Vatican on the eve of my son’s birthday to speak about forgiveness to the world.”
“You can’t control what happens in life, but you can choose how to respond. We choose forgiveness over hatred, we choose love over revenge and we choose to turn the day of tragedy into a day of forgiveness.”
You can watch the Abdallah’s address to the Vatican below.
Image credits: Instagram
This article first appeared on OverSixty.