How to Handle Anti-Catholic Persecution: Not Such a New Question After All

Is there persecution in the Church today in the year 2010? How should we react to it?
by Mélanie Pilon, Consecrated wom | Source: Mater Ecclesiae College

Is this for real?

Crucifixes have been ordered removed from all European schools, on the claim that their presence is an offense against freedom.  A bishop is arrested for speaking out against homosexual marriage during his Sunday homily.  Eight Catholics in Iraq are killed within only ten days, because of their Christian faith.  And we are in the year 2010? 

In a world which is apparently at the height of civilization and progress, it’s hard to believe these things really happen.  Aren’t persecution and martyrdom a thing of the past? It would seem so, as tolerance is exalted as the value of the day.  However, certain hostility towards Christians is making itself felt where Christianity itself was held as a cornerstone for 2000 years.  How are we to react to such an obvious injustice?  Are we doing something radically wrong?   

Reality check

As we wonder at this, there is a little something we may be forgetting.  Jesus Christ, the founder and center of our faith, died nailed to a cross.  During his thirty years on earth, he faced ridicule and hostile confrontation.  He was rejected by his own people, and finally led to an unjust condemnation and death by the authorities of his own nation.  

Did Christ not make it clear that this would happen to us too?  Knowing we would probably forget sometimes, he said, “Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No slave is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.”  (John 15: 20-21)   

So how are we supposed to react?  

• "Christians who remember the fate of their Master, cannot be surprised about being persecuted, but justice and law must prevail everywhere, even for them." – Fr. Frederico Lombardi, spokesman for the Vatican Press Office. 

Accepting persecutions is not lack of action to promote justice.  We are called by our Christian vocation to continue working to build a civilization of justice and love, all the while knowing that the way of a Christian is the way of the cross.  

 “Therefore we have chosen to fast and pray in protest against these heinous acts and in solidarity with our brothers, confident that the justice of God is inevitable."  Archbishop Louis Sako, Mosul Iraq, in the wake of a killing spree of Christians in February 2010.  

God is faithful.  Prayer is our means to obtain the strength we need to remain united to Christ and faithful to him in persecution.  We can seem to have lost the battle, but nothing and no one can take him away from us.  

• "We desperately need you to pray for us."

These words of Archbishop Emil Shimoun Nona, of the archdiocese of Mosul, are a plea to the whole Church for unity in prayer in these times of persecution.  The Catholic Church is the Body of Christ on earth.  When one member suffers, the others suffer with her; when one rejoices, the rest rejoice with her.  Our prayer for our suffering members is not indifferent. 

• "I want to reaffirm to young people and to all Christians in India the message that Jesus brings in the Gospel: Love your enemies, also when you feel persecuted, humiliated, oppressed. It's not easy to do, but it's possible. Love is able to disarm the enemy.”  Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati, India. 

The first Christians were known by the way they loved each other and forgave their enemies.  Should Christians today be recognized any differently?  

Be true Christians

Yes, this is the year 2010.  And yes, even today Catholics are persecuted for their faith.  Nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus promise that following him will be easy; he promises the cross.  The answer to handling anti-Catholic persecution lies in being who we say we are.  If we call ourselves Christians, it means following Christ on the path he walked.  Love in the face of suffering.  Forgiveness in the face of hatred.  

And lest we forget…with the promise of the cross comes Jesus’ promise to be with us along the way – the deepest joy we can experience in this life. 


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Post a Comment
Published by: Josephine, Sydney
Date: 2010-11-28 19:00:43
I agree with the article, but if you are persecuted due to your faith you should fight it (with love). I believe that allowing a person to continue bad behaviour is not to their benefit.

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