UNITED KINGDOM/INTERNATIONAL: New report reveals 75 percent of religious persecution is against Christians
By Terry Murphy
(l-r) Aid to the Church in Need's UK Director Neville Kyrke-Smith, Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, Iraq, Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh and Aid to the Church in Need head of press John Pontifex launch 'Persecuted and Forgotten?'
Aid to the Church in Need has launched a new report which reveals that Christians are the most persecuted religion in the world – with 75 percent of religious persecution being carried out against Christians.
Persecuted and Forgotten? – a report on Christians oppressed for their faith – was officially launched by Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, Iraq, and Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh at an event in Glasgow on Tuesday, 15th March.
The report’s findings, labelled as “shocking and saddening” by Cardinal O’Brien, underline the words of Pope Benedict XVI, who at the beginning of 2011 said: “Many Christians live in fear because of their pursuit of truth, their faith in Jesus Christ and their heartfelt plea for respect for religious freedom.”
BBC Reporting Scotland coverage of the launch of Persecuted and Forgotten?
In two-thirds of the countries where persecution of Christians is most severe, there are strong indications that the problem has worsened, the report claims. It also goes on to underline the severe threat to the Christian presence in parts of the Middle East, especially Iraq and the Holy Land.
Speaking about fears for the future of Christians in Iraq, Archbishop Warda said: “We wonder if we will survive as a people in our own country.
“The Persecuted and Forgotten? report and the work of Aid to Church in Need are critical to us as members of the worldwide Christian community. This information will significantly contribute to building international support and solidarity for Christians around the world where our human rights and our religious freedom have been stripped away.”
Persecuted and Forgotten? also highlights the threat of Islamist extremism, not just in the Middle East but also in north Africa and parts of Asia. And it reveals that authorities in a number of Communist or atheistic countries are reasserting state control over religious activity.
STV News at Six coverage of the launch of Persecuted and Forgotten?
Ahead of the launch, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster said: “This book shows us the scale of suffering endured by Christians today. [In it] we encounter some of the remarkable people who are giving their lives in heroic witness to Christ.
“It is essential reading for those who care about the survival of Christianity… where the faithful are fleeing their homelands and the Church is at risk of disappearing.”