Edward Pentin began reporting on the Pope and the Vatican with Vatican Radio before moving on to become the Rome correspondent for the National Catholic Register. He has also reported on the Holy See and the Catholic Church for a number of other publications including Newsweek, Newsmax, Zenit, The Catholic Herald, and The Holy Land Review, a Franciscan publication specializing in the Church and the Middle East. Edward is the author of “The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? An Investigation into Alleged Manipulation at the Extraordinary Synod on the Family”, published by Ignatius Press. Follow him on Twitter @edwardpentin
Britain’s newly-elected Prime Minister has recalled the plight of persecuted Christians in his Christmas message, saying his government stands with Christians “everywhere, in solidarity, and will defend your right to practice your faith.”
“Today of all days, I want us to remember those Christians around the world who are facing persecution,” Johnson said. “For them, Christmas Day will be marked in private, in secret, perhaps even in a prison cell.
“As Prime Minister, that’s something I want to change,” Johnson continued. “We stand with Christians everywhere, in solidarity, and will defend your right to practice your faith.”
Johnson’s Conservative Party, elected with a landslide majority Dec. 12, pledged as part of its manifesto to implement recommendations of recent report on how Britain could better help persecuted Christians.
The report, published earlier this year by the previous Conservative government, found that in some parts of the world the persecution of Christians had reached near “genocide” levels.
During his race for the leadership of the Conservative Party in the summer, Johnson said he would “always prioritize protecting religious freedoms and stand up for those facing persecution.”
His message today follows Prince Charles’ Christmas message for persecuted Christians, published by Aid to the Church in Need Dec. 22.
Father Benedict Kiely, founder of Nasarean.org, a charity assisting persecuted Christians, told the Register Dec. 24, “This is a hopeful sign that the worldwide persecution of Christians is beginning to be recognized.”
He also pointed out that it “may be the first time that a British Prime Minster has committed the Government to help Christians not just worship, but as he said, ‘practice their faith.’”
Freedom of worship is not the same as freedom to practice a faith, as worship can be allowed but with severe restrictions. Freedom of religion refers to the broader right to practice religious belief and live out one’s faith.
In his Christmas message, Prince Charles recalled the devastating terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, said that two-thirds of Syria’s Christian population has fled the country in the past decade, and noted that Iraq’s Christian population has shrunk by up to 90% within a generation.
“As we recall how the Christ child fled with his parents to Egypt,” he said, “let us remember the countless men who endure terrible persecution or are forced to flee their homes, and let us strengthen our resolve to prevent Christianity disappearing from the lands of the Bible.”