The Catholic Thing
The Global War on Christians Print E-mail
By George J. Marlin   
Wednesday, 13 November 2013

As Chairman of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a Catholic charity dedicated to helping the persecuted Church, plenty of material lands on my desk depicting atrocities against Christians. I have also had many opportunities to meet with people who have witnessed these crimes.

This past month, I spent an afternoon at ACN headquarters in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with the Maronite ordinary of Syria, Bishop Elias Sleman.  He described the Muslim crimes against Christians that have driven members of his flock to mountain hiding places, where they are barely subsisting.

In general, very little has been reported by the mainline media or documented by contemporary historians about Christian suffering during the past century.  The Italian journalist Francesca Paci has conceded that as far as the fate of Christians in Iraq, Algeria, and India, “We ignore too many things and even more indefensibly, we pretend not to see many things.”

One notable exception is Robert Royal’s trenchant work, The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century, published in 2000 at the time of the celebration of the new millennium.  As for twenty-first century atrocities, we are fortunate to have the newly published, The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution, by the Catholic reporter, John L. Allen, Jr.

Mr. Allen points out that the word “war” has in recent times been used too freely to promote various causes, i.e., War on Women, War on Christmas.  In his judgment the correct usage means, “facing [a] situation with the necessary sense of urgency.” And because 80 percent of acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed at Christians, Allen holds that there is a compelling urgency for talking about a war on Christians.

His book does not deal with religious liberty issues confronting American and European Catholics, but actual “threats to life and limb faced by Christians in other global neighborhoods.”  The book succeeds at dispelling the notion that anti-Christian violence is “rare and exceptional.”

Since the turn of the century, advocacy groups have estimated that 100-150,000 Christians have been martyred annually.  Other forms of harassment Christians must endure, particularly in countries where they are a minority population, include societal discrimination, employment discrimination, legal discrimination, as well as suppression of Christian missionary activity and worship, and forced conversions from Christianity.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reports that between 2006 and 2010 some form of harassments against Christians occurred in 139 nations – approximately three-quarters of the world’s countries.  Thirty-seven percent of them have “high” or “very high” restrictions on Christian activities.

This year the Open Doors World Watch listed the “most hazardous nations on earth in which to be a Christian.”  The number one nation on the list of twenty-five was North Korea, followed by Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Iran.  Eighteen of the countries on the list are majority Muslim. 

The crisis is global, Allen concludes, because the top twenty-five are scattered throughout the world: “Six of these nations are in Asia, seven in Africa, eight in the Middle East. . .and four in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet sphere.”

Allen lists ten reasons why Christian persecutions are sky-rocketing; with two standing out as the root causes:

·      Many countries are witnessing an increasingly strong connection between nationalism and religion, with Christianity, or some forms of Christianity, perceived as a threat to national identity.
·      Christians, in some places, have become outspoken advocates for human rights and democracy, which means they’re seen as threats to authoritarian regimes – especially since Christians often can plug into international networks of support that most other religious groups don’t have.

One-third of Allen’s book is devoted to succinct descriptions of anti-Christian persecutions in twenty-eight countries located in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe.

One report that I found shockingly revealing is on Coloumbia.  I was unaware that the Vatican considers this Latin American country “the single most dangerous place on earth to be a church worker.”

Colombia, a nation of 46 million has vast lawless areas inhabited by members of drug cartels, para-military revolutionaries, and pagan tribes.  What unites these disparate groups is hatred of Christian priests, ministers, and activists.

Rescue Christians, an evangelical watch group, monitors the violence in Colombia and has documented that:

·      On average thirty pastors are murdered every year
·      Over 200 Churches have been forcibly closed
·      The Christian inhabitants of numerous communities have been driven from their homes and placed in refugee camps
·      In 2011 and 2012, 60 percent of the total worldwide murders of human rights workers took place in Columbia.                

Allen concludes his engrossing and readable book with a chapter entitled “What’s to Be Done.”  First, he calls for public prayers similar to the prayers said after Mass by those of us over sixty in pre-Vatican II days for the conversion of Russia.  The intent of those prayers established by Pope XI in 1930 was to ask that, “tranquility and freedom to profess the faith be restored to the afflicted people of Russia.” 

Similar prayers for persecuted Christians worldwide, Allen believes, would remind Catholics that there are people suffering for the faith and “could help raise consciousness and steel resolve.”

He also calls for continued support by Catholics of organizations, like the Catholic Near East Welfare Association and ACN that are “suppliers of humanitarian assistance to suffering Christians.”

Finally, he calls on Catholics to “bring pressure to bear on leaders to make the defense of religious freedom a priority, and to give special attention to members of the world’s most persecuted religious body.”

At a 2011 London conference that dealt with the Christian crisis in the Middle East, the Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, bluntly asked:  “Does anybody hear our cry?”  For all Catholics who want to answer that cry, The Global War on Christians is must reading.

George J. Marlin, Chairman of the Board of Aid to the Church in Need USA, is an editor of The Quotable Fulton Sheen and the author of The American Catholic VoterHis most recent book is Narcissist Nation: Reflections of a Blue-State Conservative.
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own. 

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Comments (10)Add Comment
written by Deacon Ed Peitler, November 13, 2013
It would be a remarkable demonstration of solidarity with the poor and oppressed Church for Father Francis to venture to some of these places since a shepherd ought to be with the sheep. There could be, in my own mind, no greater witness to Christ who gave all for those he loves.
written by Manfred, November 13, 2013
In the 1970s, the Vatican produced a document called Sapientia Christiana which was supposed to force any school of higher education which referred to itself as Catholic, to be, in reality, Catholic. Has anyone ever heard of this document? The Vatican went back and issued Ex Corde Ecclesiae which was also dead on arrival. My point is that the Church is feckless, that the only weapon it has is the pen, and tons of money and ink are expended each year in futile gestures in attempts to protect itself and its members. If the Church is so impotent that it can not even demand that Notre Dame, as one example, be truly Catholic (see Land O' Lakes Statement), how could it ever help its members in North Korea or Afghanistan?
written by DS, November 13, 2013
The only weapon the Church has is the pen? If that's the case, then it's just another competitor to the New York Times.

How about prayer?
written by BillHocter, November 13, 2013
I like the idea about prayers after Mass. At a minimum, it could be added to the prayers of the faithful intentions.
written by Layman Tom, November 13, 2013

I am again blown away by your knowledge of Church documents. And I agree that she ought to flex some muscle where she could do some real good, i.e. excommunicate the recalcitrant politicos and force the institutions that proclaim themselves Catholic to follow doctrine. However, that she doesn’t does not necessarily impute impotence in hostile countries. The impotence is real and more related to logistics than will. The fact is that there is not much that can be done to directly protect the flock from evil in these places without meeting force with force. As tough as the Swiss Guard may be, and I believe they are all former special ops types, there aren’t enough of them to spread all over creation fighting communism and Islamist wing-nuts. There is a limit to what can be accomplished through strongly worded diplomatic admonishments and political pressure. Eventually, you have to get down off the porch and back your bark up with some bite.

I suppose that if the Vatican had a standing Holy Army of the Tiber at its disposal, many would consider it…impious to send them out to crack heads and wipe out evil, even in defensive action only. Unfortunately, as much as we pray for evildoers to stop and put daisies in their gun barrels, they probably won’t. The only thing that will actually defeat those evil people here on earth is actual defeat. So, many more will suffer and lose their temporal lives and there’s very little the church can do to stop it. It’s not her fault through lack of will. It’s just a lack of physical force.

Thankfully, afterwards, those same people who sacrificed their life on Earth for their faith in God will be rewarded with ultimate victory. I hope and pray that I would be as courageous and steadfast if ever faced with the same terrifying odds. Those unfortunate people are truly heroes and an inspiring lot. BTW, eventually, those other ones will meet their just rewards too.

In the meantime, since we ARE the church and the church is us, we should do as the author suggested and pray for the victims as well as support the earthly efforts to try to aid those who escaped their martyrdom, at least so far. As for me, I will look up those organizations he cited and try to help them do their courageous and loving work somehow. Maybe we can’t excommunicate anyone or stand up to the Fighting Irish, but we can still keep the church from being feckless in response to this all by ourselves.

Much love brother.
written by Sue, November 13, 2013
John Allen? Really? We are supposed to consider this agent of National Catholic Reporter an oracle?

Considering the fact that the Rockefeller-Hesburgh-Notre Dame-Planned Parenthood power connection represents a well-established power structure that undergirds an international system, both overt and covert, of oppression and propping up of persecuting regimes, it is not unwise to look within our own country and Church to see where evil can be hobbled.

Of course prayer helps but we wouldn't want to emulate the man who prayed and prayed to win the lottery, then complained to God when he failed to do so. God's answer: you didn't buy a ticket.
written by Manfred, November 13, 2013
DS: Thank you for your comment. The Church had prayer for roughly 2,000 years, but with the advent of the hermeneutic of rupture, it was found that prayer represented a distraction as it took valuable time away from the work of social justice. What could be more important that securing amnesty for millions of people who came into this Country illegally?

Layman Tom: Thank you for your comment. Did I mention military action? Cardinal Burke of the Signatora has ordered by name that Nancy Pelosi must be denied Holy Communion because of her intransigent position of promoting abortion. Result? Niente, nada, nicht, zero! No one in the hierarchy will obey him including Cardial Wuerl. The American churchmen do not discriminate. They allow over a million fetuses of all denominations to be torn apart in their mothers' wombs each year. Why they will wven invite the Abortionist in Chief to the the Al Smith Dinner. So if God allows Satan to rampage throughout world and Catholics are suffering, WE deserve it.
written by william manley, November 13, 2013
The best thing to come out of today's discussion is Deacon Ed's suggestion for the Pope to personally get involved. He has given us his words; it's time for him to put those words into action.
written by Michael McDermott, November 15, 2013
Robert Lopez is Right (Although his 'two moms' might not agree) -

The Gaystapo are Slave keepers, not unlike their Homo-Nazi predecessors in the third reich - who followed the Trojan model of making babies for warriors and keeping slaves for laborers.

Sexual Radicalism: Imperial project, global goliath

"In crude terms, male-male couples that want children are looking to control a dependent without having to support the child’s biological mother beyond birth...

The Strange, Strange Story of Gay Fascists.- by Johann Hari.

The lost boys of Afghanistan by: JOEL BRINKLEY.
written by Sean Gunning, November 20, 2013
I'm supposed to be proofing the 1st 50 pages of my ms about a reluctant trip to the Holy Land to send to an agent who might, just possibly might like what she reads and want to sign me up, and instead I'm reading these articles and the associated comments. Am I nuts? No, because they're fascinating.

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