Christian Persecutions at All-Time High
Church Officials Present ‘Persecuted and Forgotten’ Report in Rome
Across the world, Christians are being persecuted for their faith at an all-time high.
Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, the patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, expressed this while speaking in Rome during the presentation of the recent summary report “Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians Oppressed for Their Faith, 2013-2015,” published by Aid to the Church in Need.
The presentation, which shed much light on the increasing Christian martyrdom and suffering throughout the world, was held at the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher in the Vatican last month. Also speaking was Nigerian Archbishop Matthew Nan-oso Ndagoso of Kaduna.
The report examines the increasing tragedy of Christians in 22 countries of concern, including Iraq, India, Syria, China, Pakistan, North Korea, Libya, Nigeria, Sudan, Israel and Egypt.
Using testimonies of those who have witnessed persecution, the report demonstrates how Christians are the most persecuted faith group in the world.
One of the report’s key findings was that extremist Islamist groups — who, for religious motives, are working toward ethnic cleansing in parts of the world, according to the report — are threatening the Church’s ability to survive in parts of the Middle East and Africa.
Potentially within five years, due to a massive exodus, the report states that Christianity could disappear from Iraq, where its ancient roots originated.
Patriarch Sako explained that this fear of genocide has driven his people from their lands and how this distress prompted Christians in Mosul, Iraq, to flee to Kurdistan.
The patriarch told the Register, “We really need solidarity, as we are all part of the same mankind.”
Patriarch Sako suggested that America has the power to destroy ISIS and suggested that this does not mean solely with bombs, but with a ground operation under a United Nations’ mandate.
He expressed his belief that more serious action could be taken on the part of the West to counter the terrorist group wreaking havoc in the Middle East.
Archbishop Ndagoso also explained the increasing pressure on Nigeria’s people and how its corrupt government makes matters worse.
The terrorist group Boko Haram, he explained, has caused hundreds of thousands of people in northern Nigeria to flee, as entire communities seek refuge in lands where they feel safe from Islamic threats. However, he noted, the reality is that many mourn their killed loved ones or those who have been captured by militants and whose fate is unknown.
Since Boko Haram wishes to eradicate Christianity, the archbishop stressed that all Christians are at risk, regardless of their background and tradition, especially in the nation’s hardest-hit area of northeast Nigeria.
“I watched Boko Haram grow,” the archbishop shared. “My house was in Maiduguri, just 200 meters from the headquarters of Boko Haram, and it was destroyed in 2009. So I’ve seen them grow.”
“Anyone with eyes,” he pointed out, could see this group would become a threat. Then, he added, “they became what they are now,” meting out atrocious destruction of property and life in recent years, not just of Christians, but also Muslims.
“Both Christians and Muslims have died in the hands of Boko Haram,” he reaffirmed to the Register, adding that the group, in addition to attacking various establishments, attacks both churches and mosques.
In the northeast, he said, the persecution is systematic, as its faithful are not allowed to practice their faith or build churches for worship. He explained that there is a group of indigenous Christians called the Magusawa, who, because they refuse Islam, are considered “nonexistent” and, consequently, are denied basic services like education and water. The archbishop, however, did note how the army has been trying to help displaced Nigerians come back; some have returned.
In China, the report found, there is greater pressure on Christians, who are seen as a threat because of the growing “underground” Church.
In addition, the report found that “nationalist religious” movements, including within Islam, Hinduism, Judaism and Buddhism, “see Christians as a foreign ‘colonial’ import.” It explained that Christians are seen as being connected to, in their viewpoint, a corrupt and exploitative West — and are, therefore, seen with suspicion.
For his part, in addition to mentioning that his people need shelter, food and supplies, Patriarch Sako said that the persecuted need hope and support: “They need signs of support from their brothers in the West. They cannot feel forgotten.”
Deborah Lubov is a Vatican correspondent, accredited to the Holy See and
based in Rome, who reports primarily for Zenit News Agency.
- Nov. 15-28, 2015