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Solidarity with Persecuted Christians

The Lenten season is an optimal time to be in spiritual and material solidarity with the millions of followers of Jesus Christ enduring hardships because of their faith.

Last January, Philippine Bishop Edwin de la Peña visited the cathedral of Marawi after jihadists, claiming to be allied to ISIS, launched an attack on the town in May 2017.  

What he saw was “heartbreaking” as he later described it. Everything was destroyed. 

This tragic incident perpetrated by Islamic extremists in a land that used to be a model  of coexistence between different religions is a brutal confirmation of a worldwide trend of growing persecution against Christians. 

According to a report by the U.K. Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) released in 2017, the persecution of Christians reached a peak between 2015 and 2017 as fundamentalist groups stepped up their attacks. 

John Pontifex, who edited the report titled “Persecuted and Forgotten?”, said: “In terms of the numbers of people involved, the gravity of the crimes committed and their impact, it is clear that the persecution of Christians is today worse than at any time in history.”

North Korea is the most aggresive country against Christians. In this communist and secretive state, religion is outlawed and the few remaining Catholics face harsh and violent repression. 

In Asia, intolerance vis a vis Christian religion is practiced mostly in countries governed by nationalist and religious fundamentalist ideologies, like India and Pakistan, and also in communist states, i.e, North Korea, China and Vietnam. 

In the world’s most populous country, fears are growing among Christians following the new regulations on religious affairs that came into effect last February. There have been worrisome signs of a religious clampdown seen in the demolition of churches in the province of Zhejiang and the routine detention of clergy by authorities. 

This phenomenon, which is a violation of the right of freedom of religion, should not continue being overlooked. It is high time the international community speaks out against the worsening repression of Christians across the world. Western governments and the United Nations have the moral responsibility to respond to the needs of oppressed Christians. 

The Lenten season is an optimal time to be in spiritual and material solidarity with the millions of followers of Jesus Christ enduring hardships because of their faith. 

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