Persecuted and Forgotten? – Situation of Christians in many countries has sharply deteriorated
• In the Middle East a Christian exodus of almost biblical proportions now threatens the survival of the Church
In many countries the situation of Christians has sharply deteriorated. This is the finding of the report Persecuted and Forgotten? which was launched at a meeting in the UK Houses of Parliament on 17th October by the UK office of the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). The report examines the situation of Christians in 30 different countries, including Afghanistan, China, Laos, Pakistan, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. In particular it analyses the situation in a number of majority Islamic countries and in those states whose political systems have a pronounced authoritarian character. The reporting period covers the past two-and-a-half years.
The principal finding of the report is that in two-thirds of the countries where persecution of Christians is most severe, the problems have become arguably even worse. In fact the Church’s very survival in some parts – notably the Middle East – is now at stake.
(The cover image of the report shows the destruction of the Virgin Mary Church in Imbaba, Cairo, Egypt, May 2011)
For Christians the so-called “Arab spring” has in many cases become what the report calls a “Christian winter”. Although the political upheavals have brought suffering to people of all faith communities, nonetheless it is above all the Christian confessions that have experienced the most open hostility and violence. They have become victims of every kind of political, economic, social and religious conflict – for example the conflicts between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims. As a result, a great many Christians have been forced to flee. The report describes the exodus as reaching “almost biblical proportions”.
Aid to the Church in Need’s John Pontifex explained, “From all accounts, the incidents of persecution are now apparently relentless and worsening; churches being burnt, Christians under pressure to convert, mob violence against Christian homes, abduction and rape of Christian girls, anti-Christian propaganda in the media and from Government, discrimination in schools and the workplace… the list goes on. Persecuted and Forgotten? begs deep questions about the international community’s commitment to standing up for religious freedom.”
According to the information presented in Persecuted and Forgotten? the influence of fundamentalist Islamist groups has increased markedly in the past two-and-a-half years. They represent possibly the greatest threat to religious freedom in the world today. Their goal is the elimination, or at the very least the subjugation, of Christians. In communist countries to the efforts have increased to exert control over the Christian population. However, in these countries Christians tend to be persecuted above all on account of their contacts with dissidents and with the West, and not so much on account of their faith alone. In North Korea there is no official recognition of any religious activities, while those that are tolerated are strictly controlled. China continues to insist on asserting its authority over all Christian groups, especially over those not registered with the State.
To read the whole report click HERE (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report)
To read a short one page summary of the report click HERE
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 162 languages and 48 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
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