With the ongoing "Fortnight for Freedom," which continues through Independence Day, and the ongoing battle over the HHS mandate (see story on page 10 and the editorial below), Catholics and men and women of goodwill are bearing witness in word and deed to the treasured history of religious freedom in the United States.

While we are preoccupied with the struggle on our home front, it’s easy to lose sight of the battle for religious freedom that is literally costing people their lives.

Case in point: our page-one story on the fundamentalist Muslim sect ISIS, which is so barbaric that the terrorist organization al-Qaeda has reportedly disassociated itself from it. This latest scourge of evil in the Middle East, according to our story, is pushing Christians in Iraq to the brink of extermination.

The Christians of Iraq represent a 2,000-year-old culture. It is believed that St. Thomas the Apostle brought the Gospel to the region not long after the resurrection of Christ. The number of Iraqi Christians has dwindled from 1.5 million in 2003 to fewer than 450,000 in 2013.

Please join me in prayer for all of our persecuted brethren, both here and abroad.

God bless you!