Danny and Leila Abdallah paid tribute to their late son Antony at the World Meeting of Families in the Vatican, delivering a speech about forgiveness as part of their efforts to commemorate what would have been his 16th birthday.
After sharing their personal story with fellow Catholics at the conference and urging people to “hang on to Christ, embrace suffering, and offer it up to the cross,” the Maronite Christian couple earned a standing ovation.
The parents of Liana, 12, Alex, 7, Michael, 6, and Selina, 3 months, claimed that it was only through forgiving the drug- and alcohol-impaired motorist who killed their children that they were able to continue.
The driver killed their daughters Sienna and Angelina, son Anthony, and their niece Veronique Sakr on February 1, 2020, causing tragedy for the Abdullah family.
“It was a perfect summer’s day when seven precious, adorable children walked to get some ice cream for my niece’s birthday,” Mr Abdallah said.
“What should have been an enjoyable outing for the young kids turned into one of the worst road tragedies Australia has ever seen.”
Mr. Abdallah spoke of a “war zone” at the place where his kids were killed.
“From far away I saw the police cover Antony, Selina, Angelina and Veronique with white sheets.”
The Pope invited the Abdallahs to address the gathering about their faith and forgiveness.
Leila Abdallah spoke about her decision to forgive the motorist who had caused her and her family so much suffering throughout the speech.
“I don’t hate him; I think in my heart I forgive him, but I want the court to be fair,” she stated in response to a question from the media about how she felt.
Mrs. Abdallah stated that although she was unaware of the effects of her remarks, she still held the conviction that “the Holy Spirit guided my lips to speak words of forgiveness.”
Daniel, stated that he understood that his response would affect where he and his family “would be” for the rest of their lives.
According to Mr. Abdallah, “I decided to forgive myself for instructing my kids to go for a walk.”
“I made the decision to pardon the sinner out of obedience to my heavenly Father.
Dad, forgive him, my kids would say if they were around today.
“Forgiveness benefits the giver more than the recipient.
You begin to recover when you forgive the other person.
Mr. Abdallah claimed that their shared capacity for forgiving had taught them a great deal about one another and how they view one another.