Saturday, January 8, 2011

Violence Against Christians

US bishops decry violence against Christians around the world

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Two U.S. bishops condemned recent attacks on Christians, offering support to Orthodox Christians in Egypt and asking State Department officials to urge other governments to better protect human rights, particularly religious freedom. New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, expressed "profound sorrow" over the deaths of about two dozen in a Coptic Orthodox church in Alexandria, Egypt, in a Jan. 4 letter to Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III. He also said American Catholic bishops "stand in solidarity with you and your church in this time of trial and suffering." In a separate letter Jan. 6 to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., chairman of the bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, said the recent spate of attacks on Christians in several countries deserves a response from U.S. diplomats. "We believe the egregious violations of human rights as well as indifference and inaction by foreign governments to the protection of their own citizens must be weighed seriously by the current administration as it makes economic and political decisions that impact these states," Bishop Hubbard wrote. He called upon U.S. diplomats to "raise with other governments the need to better protect the human rights, including religious freedom, for vulnerable minorities, especially Christians."

We have probably heard about this in passing during these last few weeks. During these solemn Holy Days, while most of us come and go into our churches, our brothers and sisters are being slain, in various localities. On the feast of the Holy Innocents one of the commentaries mentioned that right from the beginning, Jesus, and the Body of Christ, were subjected to violence. This is a terrible happening. During Christmas week we saw similar situations played out in Iran and Iraq.

When I was in the Holy Land, many of the Christians there spoke about how they are moved around and/or restricted in their travels. Granted Israel is surrounded by very hostile enemies. The Christians often experience the brunt of the security measures.

It is very important for us to be aware of our brothers and sisters and their struggle for dignity and justice. While we might complain about the music or a draft, Christians in some places of the world worry about being killed. It is important that we let our government leaders know our thoughts on these matters. We also want to keep these people in our daily prayers.

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