ACN News: Thursday 30th November 2017
The European Parliament holds for the first time a Public Hearing on Persecuted Christians
• Aid to the Church in Need invited to present its recently published report "Persecuted and Forgotten?" and comment on possible solutions
By Marcela Szymanski
As “Red Wednesday” was being observed in many countries around the world commemorating the sacrifice of the martyrs of their faith, the European Parliament, on the 22nd November, held a Public Hearing in which for the first time it specifically sought to gather information about the global persecution of Christians. The Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) was invited to provide factual background information as contained in its recent 2015-2017 edition of “Persecuted and Forgotten?”, a biennial report on Christian persecution.
(Marcela Szymanski presenting to the European parliament ACN’s recent 2015-2017 edition of “Persecuted and Forgotten?”, a biennial report on Christian persecution © European Union 2017)
Presenting after the UN Rapporteur and the EU Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion, Marcela Szymanski of the ACN EU Office provided a summary of the main findings, and a country-by-country review of case studies. The report elicited interest especially in those countries where the members of the European Parliament were not as aware that Christian persecution was so acute such as, for example, in India, China and Nigeria.
As many of the preceding speakers had already described a realistic, dark picture of the growing persecution of Christians, ACN also provided some positive case studies, notably an update to the Nineveh Reconstruction Project - an effort by the charity to rebuild Christian homes, churches and religious institutions in Iraq following the devastation of ISIS. This last point received particular attention and unity of support by the parliamentarians as a concrete and positive example for this troubled region of how to help persecuted Christians return to their homes and in so doing help retain the plurality of Iraqi society.
The UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion, Ahmed Shaheed, indicated that in the coming months the UN will look especially to the situation of Christians in Indonesia, Pakistan and the North of Africa. Jan Figel, the EU Special Envoy, revealed that he is working with his colleagues to emphasize in their contacts with countries where persecution occurs that the most important concept to defend is “citizenship”, promoting equality to all regardless of their faith.
The members of the European Parliament concluded with a note of gratitude to the participants and for the insightful information as well as the need to review the instruments at their disposal to promote freedom of religion and religious literacy.
Aid to the Church in Need Public Affairs, through the dissemination of its "Religious Freedom" and "Persecuted and Forgotten?" reports as well as by facilitating first-hand testimony from project partners working on the ground, seeks to help inform policy-makers on issues related to the persecution of Christians around the world.
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 172 languages and 50 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
While ACN gives full permission for the media to freely make use of the charity’s press releases, please acknowledge ACN as the source of stories when using the material.
For more information or to make a donation to help the work of Aid to the Church in Need, please contact the Australian office of ACN on (02) 9679-1929. e-mail: email@example.com or write to Aid to the Church in Need PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153.
On Line donations can be made at www.aidtochurch.org