The Catholic Thing
The Church Persecuted – 2011 Print E-mail
By George J. Marlin   
Wednesday, 25 January 2012

As Chairman of Aid to the Church in Need U.S.A., a Catholic charity for persecuted and other suffering Christians, a lot of data lands on my desk about violence against Catholics throughout the world. Since the mainline media doesn’t give them much coverage, here’s a quick review of anti-Christian events readers may have missed in 2011:


During the “Arab spring,” Egyptian Catholic Bishop Antonios Aziz Mina of Giza condemned security forces for inaction when two of his churches were attacked by an extremist Muslim group. Twelve people were murdered and over 200 injured. The outraged bishop said, “The army will not stand up against the people who do this sort of thing. They want to stay neutral. The police appear but very slowly. They are frightened.”

In October, the Catholic Church in Egypt implicated the regime in the deaths of twenty-five Copts. The government encouraged a mob to attack Christians who marched on the state-controlled television headquarters seeking greater protection. Father Rafic Grieche explained: “We are accusing the army and the police, who used vagabonds, a rabble force of street fighters, to attack the demonstrators.” Under Mubarak, it was easier to demonstrate but “the new regime under Prime Minister Essam Sharaf was opposed to such forms of freedom of speech.”

Christian businessmen have also been victimized. Egyptians have been encouraged to boycott their shops and Christians have been denied employment. Ads for jobs, for example, exclude Christian women by specifying “a female employee with headscarf.” In December alone, thirty shops owned by Christians in one province were burned to the ground.

Catholic and Orthodox bishops have complained that Egypt’s 13 million Christians “are currently experiencing their worst time in centuries.”


In January 2011 the coordinator for humanitarian aid to Christian families in Iraq called on the government “to tell the truth, namely that Christians are being systematically attacked with the intention of driving them out of Iraq.” Seventy percent of the nation’s Christians have fled, leaving only about 300,000.

The Iraqi constitution discriminates against Christians; sermons of hate against Christians are preached in mosques. Christian women, fearing attacks on the streets, wear veils in public. The mayor of a predominantly Christian village told ACN, “We have reasons to believe that there are politicians who pay criminals to target Christians and kill them or chase them away.”

After a series of car bombings outside churches in the summer and fall that killed and injured scores of Christians, Syrian-Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Petros Mouche called for Iraqi political and religious leaders to take a firm stand against the violence: “They need to strongly denounce this repulsive crime, which will badly damage the reputation of Islam and the dignity of Iraq.”

               A blood-stained painting of Jesus – Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt (1/1/11)    

Democratic Republic of Congo

The prioress of the Daughters of the Resurrection described the situation in East Congo in 2011: “The war continues and the rebels are still threatening us.” Rebels have been constantly harassing the nuns, destroying their houses, and forcing them to flee. “Catholics,” she told ACN, “in Ciherano are no longer welcome.”

In northwestern Congo, Bishop Julien Andavo Mbia warned: “The Lord’s Resistance Army continues to terrorize the population. People are afraid.” That terrorist organization, which was driven out of Uganda in the 1980s, settled in Congo and regularly attacks Christian villages. Government leaders do little about it.


In 2011, five Nigerian Catholic churches were destroyed and hundreds of faithful killed and injured. Bishops complain that renegade politicians, who have whipped up religious hatred, are to blame for the bloodshed and that police have failed to protect the people. Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja condemned terrorists intent on splitting the nation into Islamic North and Christian South: “One cannot suddenly resettle all Muslims in the north and all the Christians in the south and divide up the country.” He denounced “terrorists who cause problems for anyone in Nigeria who stands in their way. . . .They claim to act in the name of Islam, but the killing of innocents is contradictory to Islam.”


Political extremists continue to target Catholics in India’s state of Orissa. Since 2008, over 170 churches have been sacked, 4,000 homes burned, with over 18,000 injured, 500 killed, and 40,000 driven from their homes. Local police have been accused of backing the radical Hindutva political party, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which seeks to eliminate Christian leaders. Archbishop John Barwa has stood up to the local government and has demanded investigations and reconstruction of Catholic communities: “My message is clear: we need peace and tranquility – no more violence, no killing.”


This nation’s leading Catholic peace activist, Theophilus Bela, has accused the Indonesian president and his government for failing “to tackle Islamist anti-Christian violence.” Indonesia’s 28.5 million Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the country. Bishop Hubertus Leteng of Ruteng has reported radical Islamization is being driven largely by militants from the Middle East.


Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha, President of Pakistan’s Bishops Conference, announced in 2011 that the outlook for Christians in his country is “bleak.” The 1.2 million Catholics are treated as second-class citizens: “We cannot speak out. We feel oppressed, repressed, and depressed.” Dozens of Catholic schools have been destroyed. Attacks are directed primarily against Catholic girls seeking an education. Christians are treated as if they are not Pakistanis and have trouble finding employment. Extremists have called for the passage of a law that would ban the Bible. A formal petition has been presented to the Supreme Court of Pakistan to declare certain Biblical passages as blasphemous.

Not a pretty picture. And we could add China, Vietnam, Cuba, and many more countries to this brief review. That’s why Pope Benedict, in his annual address to diplomats on January 9, emphasized the plight of persecuted Christians around the world. The world is not paying much attention, and Christians in free countries need to start making some noise and demanding that their own political leaders don’t let murderous anti-Christian extremists have their way.

George J. Marlin is an editor of The Quotable Fulton Sheen. His newest book is Narcissist Nation: Reflections of a Blue-State Conservative.

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Comments (16)Add Comment
written by Howard Kainz, January 25, 2012
The actions documented here are just the "tip of the iceberg." One thinks of John 16:2, "The time is coming when whoever kills you will think he is doing a service to God."
..., Low-rated comment [Show]
written by Jeannine, January 25, 2012
The Iraq War did not cause Muslim terrorism, Manfred! Terrorist acts occurred before it. And persecution of African and Indonesian Christians is not caused by the "West." Some people are enemies; it's not always the fault of America or of the West in general. It's a big world; it's not all about "us."
written by Achilles, January 25, 2012
Manfred, you are one unique historian. I did not know that persecution of Christians in the Middle East was a result of the Gulf war. Hmmmm I thought it actually had something to do with Islam itself.
written by Tom , January 25, 2012
Manfred, please clarify. Is it your opinion that the policy of aiding Israel is the unjust policy, or is the policy of retaliating against radical islamists after patiently enduring 25+ years of being ruthlessly attacked over and over again the unjust policy? It seems that, if we take that fine fellow who called the radio program at his word, then the genesis of all this barbaric violence against "targets of opportunity" (read: soft targets, i.e. women, children, schools, churches etc.) seems to be our indifference toward Muslim Palestinians. I struggle to see how that is an active case of injustice on our part or that of the west. Nor do I see how that merits the wanton destruction of life. Apparently the radio caller did not see any inherent injustice in their disproportionate response. It also ignores the thousands of people in the west who've come to the aide of Palestinian refugees and publicly prayed for a peaceful end to their plight. It is a fallacious argument at best that we deserve all the heinous things that have been and continue to be unleashed on us because we don't solve the Palestinian's problems for them. At worst, it is an evil rationalization meant to foment more hatred.

What I also struggle with is folks who, as well meaning as I believe you to be, do not see, or will not admit that those out there doing horrible, dastardly, cowardous acts in the name of all this supposed injustice in the world are in fact the cause of all their own problems, and unfortunately, a great many of ours. I do not understand your sense of empathy and compassion towards those who would be-head you to make a political point or who would rape your female loved ones because they are less than human in their eyes. While engaging all this tolerance toward these poor oppressed killers, you feel very smug about heaping all the culpability on this country and the west by association.

I'm sorry if I just don't take the radio caller at his word. I don't believe him, or more accurately, I don't believe the argument. He might very well believe it has everything to do with the Palestinians. However, those filled with hate, those who are orchestrating this struggle are bent toward destroying first Israel and then all the other "infidels". By the way, WE are infidels in their eyes. The "religion of peace" does not recognize christians as equals. There can be no other solution. In their eyes, they MUST destroy to serve God. If one is an Infidel, he can sing Cumbaya all he wants. He can try as he might to reason with them, he can defend them to the ends of the earth or he can stand up and try to stop them. They'll be happy to destroy him either way. At least if you stand up, they won't also think you a fool.
written by Tony Esolen, January 25, 2012
I'm delighted to contribute regularly to Aid to the Church in Need. I trust that almost all my money goes directly to the most troubled places in the world for a Christian to live.

It occurs to me too that the viciousness of the attacks perpetrated by the Muslims is matched only by the viciousness of attacks by secularists in our own western countries. I don't mean that secularists burn churches. That isn't their modus operandi. Many are the weapons in the arsenal of the Liar.
written by Manfred, January 25, 2012
Are we ready Jeannine, Achilles and Tom? Google: Mondoweiss, Paul O'Neill Secy of the Treasury under G.W. Bush, The Israel Lobby by Mearsheimer and Walt, the Project for the New American Century (P.N.A.C.), Haaretz, BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions), Joe Klein of TIME recent interview whether the U.S. will attack Iran and why not, etc. I have spent twenty years reading and discussing the Middle East subject with knowledgeable people and, if you are going to challenge me, then I expect you to do your homework as well. Anyone who only ingests the Main Stream Media has no idea what I am talking about. Google NYPD and the recent Muslims are terrorists film. It may cost Comm. Kelly his career. The MSM is saturated with propaganda. Thank you for reading.
written by Brian English, January 26, 2012
"We musn't whine as we brought this on ourselves with our unjust policy."

What does US foreign policy have to do with Copts in Egypt? They were there for centuries before the Muslims were. I suppose US policy is to blame for the persecution of Christians in Africa and Indonesia? I am surprised someone supposedly as well read as you is not aware that Christians in those countries are not "Western people."

"just as hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis lost their lives to Western bombs and bullets and were uprooted from their homes,"

The vast majority of innocent Iraqis who have been killed were killed by the terrorists you make excuses for. Or do you think Delta Force conducted the church massacre in Iraq last year? Actually, I don't want to know your answer to that.
written by Manfred, January 26, 2012
Pres. George W. Bush was contacted face-to-face on two occasions by representatives from the Vatican from JP II and Cdl Ratzinger to warn Bush that an invasion of Iraq would be "immoral and illegal". If Country A invades Country B in an immoral and illegal war, removes Country B's police and army services leaving the citizenry vulnerable and allowing civil attacks of Country B's citizenry on each other, then Country A is responsible for the deaths, maiming and loss of shelter by Country B's citizens. Muslims have long memories and they remember the Crusades so named because the Crusaders had crosses on their shields as their coats of arms. The Crusaders were Europeans-Westerners and they were Christian. Ergo, Christianity has always been identified as Western.
Please go to the sites I identified and you will learn of a reality that you would never have met in the MSM. Follow The Third Jihad film shown at the NYPD and then Google The Clarion Fund which financed the film. See the donor list and see the name Sheldon Adelson who, with his wife, gave $10 million to Gingrich's Super PAC with the understanding the Gingrich would protect Israel when he was elected President. See the names of the other donors and realize what is really occurring in the world.
written by Brian English, January 26, 2012
You didn't answer any of my questions.

And perhaps you should read some history that starts before the end of the 11th Century. Muslims had been attacking Christians for over 400 years before the First Crusade even took place, so spare me your Muslim long memories schtick. Two can play at that game.

In any event, nothing that you are going on about, in any way, excuses the atrocities recounted in the article above.
written by Thomas Bosco, January 26, 2012
Where is the entry for the United States? We have an administration in Washington DC hostile to Christianity and especially to Catholicism. The President claims that abortion ensure our daughters can live their dreams. He mandates that religious health care institutions support birth control and abortion services. Before Obama spoke at Georgetown University, he ordered the symbol of Our Lord, IHS, to be covered so as not to appear in the background. Here in NYC, much of the same. Mayor Hugo Chavez Bloomberg recently evicted all religious groups from using public school facilities after classes and on weekends. He forbids Christian prayer in schools and at special events, such as the 9-11 memorial ceremony. Obama, Bloomberg, and the Godless left are hell-bent on imposing big government control over every aspect of our lives. Religion, especially Christianity, stands in the way.
written by Tom, January 27, 2012
My original concerns with your position remain. However, as a man of conscience, I have done as you asked. I have waded off into the list of materials you suggested. I have to say that you must understand that some of these sites are not single pieces but rather clearing houses of hundreds of articles. Perhaps you thought that you could put these forth as an intimidating mountain that nobody would dare climb to refute you. I rather hope that you are just excited to share with the world all the impressive knowledge you have amassed. I must work and take care of the ordinary daily responsibilities, thus I haven’t finished, but I have seen enough to comment. You see, I am a diligent researcher and do not take any opinion piece at its face value, but rather read about them as well to see what the other side has to say. There is much to be gained from this approach lest one become entrenched in their hubris and eventually become quite paranoid about the opposing view point.
I am sad to report that the sources you put forth as justification for your unfortunate comments are a veritable font of misinformation and paranoia. At first blush, Mondoweisse is merely a collection of rants about Israel and American policy. However, digging deeper, one can see a very palpable distaste for our Judaic brethren. It is liberally spiced with all the important buzz words. Words like “neo-cons” and Zionist. You see, normal people, in the course of daily conversation do not use these words. Heck, professional people who are directly involved with Geopolitics and diplomacy do not use them either. You know who does use them? Klan members, Nazis, Neo-Nazis, Socialists, Communists, White supremacists of other stripes and sad people for whom there is a sinister global conspiracy lurking behind every negative thing that ever happens to them.
Setting the latent anti-Semitism aside, the articles themselves are un-inspiring. They lack scholarly rigor. They are mostly composed of unsubstantiated claims and un-corroborated quotes. There is a lack of documentation making corroboration impossible. I was not impressed, nor was I persuaded.
On to the Mearsheimer and Walt piece. Now this was different. Rather than appearing to be the ramblings of an unhinged soul and his cohorts, this was very well written and to even an experienced researcher seemed very scholarly. This makes sense as Messers Wall and Mearsheimer are university professors. At Harvard no less! I read their very lengthy essay and many of their early points seemed entirely plausible. They dispensed with any negative buzzwords and even allowed for the occasional variance on the issue. As I read, I began to notice historical points that did not jibe with my recollections.
Afterwards I researched. Guess what? This article is famous! And universally criticized by anyone of letters. They are very, very good though; I am not often taken in, but some of the more sensible points were very subtle and intentionally misleading. It was full of many quotes that were taken out of context. Looking these up, one realizes that the entire tenor of this piece, while designed to be persuasive and well documented, is actually just a more sophisticated version of the same old anti-Semitism.
Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) does not do your point any favors. This policy was not even supported by the academicians to whom it was purported to provide aid and support. This was actually a sad milestone as the first actual intentional effort to ostracize and isolate professors and universities by other scholars. Even during the cold war, American and Soviet professors were not prevented from contacting and collaborating with each other. The principle of academic freedom and openness in science was actually a force for good as it led to many channels of communication that remained open even during the periods of political saber rattling. BDS died under its own weight as academics on both sides of the issue bridled at the restrictions. Oddly enough, it was passed under specious circumstances on Passover, thus depriving an entire side of the debate a voice.
Shall I go on? I do appreciate you opening my eyes to another source of knowledge. And for strengthening my resolve that support for Israel is actually what honest and forthright people ought to give.
As to your second post, does it not seem ironic that you in one stroke use the Pope’s urging to avoid war as condemnation of the US, then cite the crusades as a justification of Muslim violence in the present day? Have you ever heard of Pope Urban II? So has the church and the Papacy historically orchestrated this entire thing in your mind? Now there’s a conspiracy theory for you.
The point remains; there are evil people in the world, regardless of their religion. In the case of Islamist terrorism, these evil people are going to respond to their evil bent by committing evil acts. When those acts are aimed at us, it is NOT our fault, and is our responsibility to defend ourselves. Similarly, when those evil people commit their villainy upon peoples that have no connection to America or the West, as has been pointed out by the other readers, it proves the point that we are not to blame for their evil. Evil is evil and evil will find a victim. What makes matters worse is when people try to explain it away, or justify it, or place the onus anywhere but on the evil and those responsible for it.
God Bless you Manfred. I will pray for you.
written by Manfred, January 27, 2012
Tom: You should have saved your reputation rather than submit such a shallow and condescending riposte.
1. Mearsheimer and Walt's THE ISRAEL LOBBY is a 484 page book.
2. Mondoweiss is a site owned and managed by American Jews who cannot abide the treatment of Palestinian by the Israelis. They have disengaged from Israel. The scholarship and research on this site is impeccable.
3. BDS is a method used by some Jewish groups to curb the sales of Israeli products in the U.S.
4 Haaretz is an Israeli newspaper often criticized by the Israeli government.
5 The Neo-cons are the "new conservatives" (Perle, Kristol, Wolfowitz, Feith, Cheney, Rumsfeld as opposed to the the Paleo-conservatives (Buchanan, Bill Buckley). The term is not pejorative. It is factual. Zionist is also acceptable as Mondoweiss, Haaretz and my Jewish friends all use it. Again, it is factual.
6. We are on the verge of a nuclear war as Israel is exerting enormous pressure on the U.S. to strike at Iran or Israel will. The U.S. is deliberately reducing its standing military as it is admitting that it lost the Iraq War and it never wants to be tempted to take such a foolish step again. The Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s pitted Shia Iran against Sunni Iraq. The Iraq War destroyed the Sunni majority in Iraq and left Shia Iraq next to Shia Iran.
7. P.N.A.C. wanted a one world hegemony led by the U.S. The Muslims countries (because they surround Israel) were its first targets. Naturally, the Muslims are not compliant and they will bankrupt us just as the Viet-Namese did forty years ago.
Save your prayers, Tom. Get some help.
written by Brian English, January 27, 2012
Maybe the third time will be a charm. What do the invasion of Iraq and support of Israel have to do with non-Western Christians being killed and persecuted all over the world?

And by what criteria do you maintain we lost the Iraq War? If the Iraqis choose to use the freedom we gave them to become puppets of the mullahs that would be a tragedy for them, but it wouldn't mean we lost the war.
written by Mr. Jamesy Mac, January 28, 2012
A little closer to home, more incidiously cloak persecutions can be found, as we have been reminded nationally from the pulpit this weekend of the unmitigated gall & audacity of this current Administration's US Dept.of H&HS's recent dictum re obligating emploees of the Catholic Church to be provided with an entire spectrum of less-than-productive reproductive services. The way this plays out has the makings of being quite a defining moment for all parties involved.
At first blush, such a bald-faced violation of the First Ammendment within The Church has the potential to manifest in a here-to-fore unrealized lash-out of sorts: DON'T TREAD ON THEM (the unborn); DON'T TREAD ON US & OUR FAMILIES......PEACE/JMCH.
written by Tom, January 30, 2012

This is fun. Ok, yes I understand that the 13,000 word essay on the Israel Lobby is actually condensed from the 494 page book. If my reputation is in danger for not having read that entire tome, so be it. One need not swim the entirety of a polluted lake to ascertain that it is polluted. I read the cliffs notes as it were. I saw enough. As I said, I discovered enough false arguments and misquoted (or at least out-of-context) history that I am convinced the authors are serving their opinion at the expense of the truth

As for Mondoweiss, I admit that I did not read more than 8-10 articles. I should have prefaced my condemnation of that site with that fact. I suppose it is entirely possible that there are well researched, well thought out ideas there which I apparently missed. I will say that life is short enough that I am not going to read every submission just to prove a point. The parts that I did read struck me as anti-Semitic drivel. Regardless of who owns and operates that site or Haaretz for that matter, one can still be wrong even if they possess the proper pedigree.

Thank you, but I know what Neo-cons refer to and I also understand that in the old country, and among some Jews, they refer to Zion and Zionism. The point there was that in a lot of circles, these are buzzwords. Perhaps I overreacted to seeing them in print in such large number. The folks I mentioned previously all very dearly love to speak in those terms, using those very buzzwords.

On to your new concerns! Yes the situation in the Middle East is dicey right now. There may be a danger of nuclear war. However that danger has far less to do with Israel and any pressure being exerted on the US (real or imagined) than it does with the fact that sociopathic mad men are racing head-long to develop the capability to create that very scenario. And yes, the United States is on the verge of reducing its manpower and capabilities, but that has nothing to do with learning any supposed lessons. If that happens, it will be because we are stupid and historically blind. After every war, America foolishly disarms. Now we face a financial disaster, so the foolish among us cry to reduce the size of our military. Weak willed politicians will comply and we will be less able to defend ourselves in this era of very real danger.

As for the Viet-cong, they did not bankrupt the United States of America. That was brought to us by liberal politicians and their fool-hardy ideas.

So there, I have now done what you asked and researched. I have apologized for my shortcomings and allowed that you might have a point about some of your criticisms of me. I have answered all of you original points and some of the subsequent ones and now even more points. When will you answer my questions? I’m beginning to think you don’t like me anymore. To re-iterate, why do you think that the US is at fault for the evil actions of evil men? Why can you not admit that, even if we are wrong in our foreign policy (and I don’t believe we are), their reaction is disproportionately evil. How can you not see that they are insufferably brutal? How do you reconcile evil against Christians in other parts of the world with US policy and the existence of Israel? Why are you so critical of a country that has gone and shed its own blood to protect and liberate peoples all over the world, asking nothing in return, yet are willing to act as apologist for brutally evil people elsewhere?

BTW, I’m still going to pray for you.

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