Sunday, May 1, 2016

A GLOBAL WAR ON CHRISTIANS


Homily for May 2nd, 2015: John 15:25-16:4a.

          Just two days ago we heard Jesus’ words: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.” In today’s gospel, Jesus returns to the same theme. “They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God.” Is that just long ago and far away? Don’t you believe it.  

A recent book, entitled The Global War on Christians, by the American journalist John Allen shows that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world today. From Iraq and Egypt to Sudan and Nigeria, from Indonesia to the Indian subcontinent, Christians in the early 21st century are the world's most persecuted religious group. The secular International Society for Human Rights says that 80 percent of violations of religious freedom in the world today are directed against Christians. Our era is witnessing the rise of a new generation of martyrs. Underlying the global war on Christians is the fact that more than two-thirds of the world's 2.3 billion Christians now live outside the West, often as a beleaguered minority up against a hostile majority -- Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia, Hindu radicalism in India, or state-imposed atheism in China and North Korea.
           Most people in Western countries have little idea that this global war on Christians is even happening. “We’re not talking about a metaphorical ‘war on religion’ in Europe and the United States fought over issues like whether it’s okay to erect a nativity set on the courthouse steps,” Allen writes. “We’re talking about a rising tide of legal oppression, social harassment and direct physical violence, with Christians as its leading victims. Christians today form the most persecuted religious body on the planet, and too often its new martyrs suffer in silence.”

          In the supposedly Christian country of Colombia, since 1984, 70 Catholic priests, two bishops, eight nuns, and three seminarians have been slaughtered, most falling victim to the nation’s notorious narco-cartels. Scores of Pentecostal and Evangelical pastors and faithful also have lost their lives. This shows two things. First, that Christians are a majority in a given country it doesn’t mean they’re safe; and second, radical Islam is hardly the only threat out there.

          What can we do about this persecution? “Don’t dismiss the power of prayer,” John Allen says. Also by supporting organizations that help victims we can make sure they don’t feel abandoned and alone. And we must also refuse to be cowed into silence about Church teachings on marriage and the sanctity of life by today’s bullying guardians of political correctness.