Persecuted and Forgotten?, a detailed Report on the extent of Christian persecution worldwide produced by Aid to the Church in Need was launched in Malta last Saturday, 24 October. The launch took place at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Hall, Birkirkara.

The opening address was delivered by Stephen Axisa, National Director of ACN Malta who spoke about the extent of persecution and the issues which Christianity was facing in many parts of the world, including lack of media coverage and support from foreign governments for persecuted Christians.

HL Mgr Francis Adeodato Micallef OCD  and Fr Herman Mizzi OCD   then spoke about their experiences of working under difficult conditions in parishes in Kuwait, Iran and Iraq. Harassment by the authorities, discrimination against Christians and even having to flee from Iran were among the problems they faced.

The key speaker was Reve Khalil Jaar, Director of ”Messengers of Peace”, an NGO in Amman, Jordan. Fr Jaar gave a moving account of the stories of Christians from Iraq and Syria who left everything behind when they fled from ISIS. Over 400 displaced families turned up at his small parish in Amman Jordan, seeking shelter. Fr Jaar is providing food, medical care and education for these families without any help from   governments or aid agencies. ACN is the only agency that has provided practical and financial support to help Fr Jaar care for all these refugee families.

At the end of his talk Fr Jaar asked the audience to join him and thousands of people in Israel, Palestine and Jordan in a heartfelt Prayer for Peace, in memory of all those Christians and people of other faiths who had been killed by terrorists in the Middle East. This Prayer for Peace, on the eve of the great feastday of Our Lady of Palestine, Queen of Peace, was an initiative set up by the Young Christian Students of Palestine, in response to an appeal for peace from the Pope.

 In his concluding speech the President of ACN Malta, Joseph Croker, said that Persecuted and Forgotten? should awaken the conscience of all Christians to pray for and take action on behalf of their persecuted Christian brothers. He thanked the speakers for their presentations and especially the prior, Fr Wistin Vella, and community of the convent of St Theresa for kindly offering us the use of their hall free of charge for the launch.