Sunday, February 16, 2014

Vatican diplomat testifies before Congress, denounces persecution of Middle East’s Christians

Testifying before a House subcommittee, the apostolic nuncio to the United Nations lamented the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and urged the United States and other leading nations to work to defend them. 

“Flagrant and widespread persecution of Christians rages in the Middle East even as we meet,” said Archbishop Francis Chullikatt. “No Christian is exempt, whether or not he or she is Arab. Arab Christians, a small but significant community, find themselves the target of constant harassment for no reason other than their religious faith.” 

“One of the most graphic illustrations of ongoing brutality confronting Arab Christians is the emergence of a so-called ‘tradition’ of bombings of Catholic and other Christian houses of worship every Christmas Eve, which has been going on now for the past several years,” he added. “Will there be no end in sight for this senseless slaughter for those whom that very night proclaim the Prince of Peace in some of the oldest Christian communities in the world?” 

“Noble efforts” to defend religious freedom at the United Nations, he continued, “fail to receive the profile they justly deserve on the world stage. Only member states, especially those with leadership profiles like the United States, can take decisive steps to ensure that the non-derogable human right of religious liberty becomes more robustly protected worldwide.”

Archbishop Chullikatt also noted that religious freedom is under attack in historically Christian nations:
Even in some of the western democracies, the longstanding paragons of human rights and freedoms, we find instances of increasingly less subtle signs of persecution, including the legal prohibition of the display of Christian symbols and imagery – legitimate expressions of belief that for centuries has enriched culture – be they on the person or on public property. This suggests a profound identity crisis at the heart of these great democracies, which owe to their encounter with Christianity both their origin and culture, including their human rights culture.
The House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations also heard testimony on the worldwide persecution of Christians from representatives of Alliance Defending Freedom, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and Impulso 18, as well as from Catholic writer John Allen.

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