We Have a Pope – How Long Will We Still Have Persecution of Christians?

By Martin Roth

Nina Shea, author of the newly published “Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians,” calls on Pope Francis I to “build on his two predecessors’ endeavors to bring aid and comfort to those who suffer for their religious beliefs.”

In particular, she says that:

* He should encourage the bishops to educate the faithful about the ongoing persecution of Christians and other religious minorities. Sunday prayers could make specific references to the Catholic bishops and evangelical leaders in indefinite detention in China; to the Christians languishing in North Korean detention camps merely for possessing a Bible; and to the Nigerians, Iraqis, and Egyptians whose churches have been repeatedly targeted in jihadi attacks and even blown up during worship services. 

* In his tireless advocacy for the oppressed Eastern European churches, John Paul showed that action is also required. In the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity, the persecution of Christians and other minorities has been exacerbated by the Arab Spring. 

* Church-organized human-rights groups and justice-and-peace commissions became common features in Central America, Chile, and elsewhere in Latin America during the military dictatorships of the 1980s, and they were indispensable to advancing rights and freedoms. We need similar groups in many Middle Eastern, Asian, and African countries today. If the promise of Dignitatis Humanae is to be fulfilled, it is crucial that the laity be trained to document religious persecution and other human-rights abuses.

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