“Our brothers and sisters in Nigeria have been facing an ongoing onslaught from extremists wanting to eradicate the Christian Faith.”
Bishop Michael Router launched ‘Week of Witness’ in St Patrick's Cathedral Armagh on Sunday and invited Christians to stand in solidarity with the "heroic example of our persecuted brothers and sisters in faith across the world".
We will provide the opportunity for the faithful to gather as a community and pray not only for persecuted Christians – but also for the persecutors of Christians (ACN Ireland).
International reports on religious freedom confirm time and again that Christians are the most persecuted group, says ACN.
Findings of ACN report on Religious Freedom in 2018 that “religious freedom is slipping down the human rights priority rankings, being eclipsed by issues of gender, sexuality and race”, are troubling.
“We state definitively that those who do not respect freedom of thought, conscience and religion must be held to account” – Chair of the Council for Justice and Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Alan McGuckian.
Pakistani Christian mother has been locked up in solitary confinement since 2010 after she was condemned to death under the country’s draconian blasphemy laws.
ACN is running a Go2Mass campaign where Catholics go to an extra Mass to pray for one of the 200 million Christians who are facing the threat of persecution or even death for their faith.
Catholic lawyer Tabassum Yousaf highlights case of 18-year-old Binish Paul who was allegedly thrown from the roof of a second storey building after refusing to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim.
“The Kurdish officials had assured us that they would not even look at the private [Catholic] schools, but they not only looked at them, they closed them.”
"Our job is primarily to support the Church in those places where it does not have the material resources to carry out its pastoral activities or where Christians are suffering from oppression, persecution and violence.”
“The food they have in these camps is not enough. Some of them get only one meal a day.” – Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Adwok Kur of Khartoum
Meeting between Pontiff and the husband and daughter of Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy, as well as Nigerian Rebecca Bitrus, who escaped from Boko Haram after two years in captivity.
“It is not true that terrorists carry out attacks to scare tourists: they want to eliminate our smile. They want us all to live in sadness. For this reason reviving our joy is a miracle that only Jesus can do." - Anba Antonios Mina, Coptic Catholic Emeritus of Guizeh
Archbishop Eamon Martin said: “It is shocking to realise that in the twenty-first century, Christians continue to be persecuted, displaced, intimidated, tortured, and even executed on account of their faith. Places of worship are targeted by violence and destruction.”
The report states that every single day Christians suffer persecution for their faith – many of them are left with no choice but to flee for their lives.
Standing up for your faith is not the stuff of ancient history. In Ireland, Catholics and Christians are entering a time when we will need the gift of courage to stay faithful to the teachings of the Gospel.
“Today too the Church, to bear witness to the light and the truth, is experiencing severe persecution in different places, up to the supreme test of martyrdom.”
In many cases people are relying on charity for their food, and the Church has stepped in to help feed those left in Aleppo - regardless of their religion.