ACN Report highlighting scale of persecution of Christians receives Papal message of support
The impact of violence, persecution and exodus on Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere is highlighted in a wide-ranging report Persecuted and Forgotten? which is due to be released in Malta next week by Aid to the Church in Need , a leading Catholic charity.
The launch of the Persecuted and Forgotten? Report will take place at Sala Madonna tal-Karmnu, Valley Road, Birkirkara at 10am next Saturday 24 October. The key speaker at the launch will be Fr Kjalil Jaar, who in 2002 received the prestigious Robert PW Pierce Award for Christian Services and Reconciliation.
Fr Jaar is well known for his humanitarian work in Iraq for over 25 years. In 1990 he was in charge of Mercy Camp close to the Iraqi border where over 40,000 people took shelter after the first Gulf crisis. He runs a humanitarian programme which offers medical assistance in hospitals abroad for seriously ill Iraqi children. Through his organisation Messengers of Peace, Fr Jaar is currently also providing medical assistance, food and education in refugee camps in Jordan, where families from Syria, Iraq and other Middle East regions have sought refuge from ISIS.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, has sent ACN a message from Pope Francis offering his support for Persecuted and Forgotten?: “His Holiness deeply appreciates the efforts of all involved in producing this report and in keeping before the world the plight and suffering of Christians persecuted for their faith.”
“In this way, [the Pope] prays that those in positions of authority will diligently strive not only to eradicate religious discrimination and persecution in their own nations, but also to seek ever more effective ways to promote international cooperation in order to overcome these offenses against human dignity and religious freedom.” The statement from Cardinal Parolin will be read out at the launch of the Report in Malta.
Persecuted and Forgotten? – a Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2013-2015 – assesses the situation in 22 countries where there are grave violations of religious freedom including physical attacks, kidnappings and murders. It makes a direct comparison with the situation two years ago. Previous research by ACN had already shown Christianity to be the world’s most persecuted religion. This latest Report will show the growing impact of extremism in Africa, the Asian sub-continent and elsewhere at a time of increasing concerns for the future of Christianity in parts of the Middle East where numbers of remaining Christians have plummeted. It also highlights the problems facing Christians and other religious minorities in countries such as China and Vietnam where historically atheistic regimes continue to put pressure on faith groups.
Persecuted and Forgotten? offers an accurate and balanced view of religious persecution worldwide. In making its assessment, the analysis of het current situation draws on in-country reports, witness testimonies, interviews with bishops, Sisters and lay people. This research material is compared with evidence from NGOs with expertise in the field.