Fr Stephen Smuts

Posts Tagged ‘Persecution

Middle East Patriarchs Meet Diplomats : Call for Wiping Out Terrorists

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Via OCP News:

BEIRUT (CNS) — Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs of the Middle East denounced attacks on Christians and called upon the international community to work toward eradicating terrorist groups.
The patriarchs met Aug. 27 at the Maronite Catholic patriarchate at Bkerke, north of Beirut, for a special summit to address the crisis in the region. They were later joined by the United Nations’ special coordinator in Lebanon and the ambassadors of the five permanent member-countries of the U.N. Security Council.
“The very existence of Christians is at stake in several Arab countries — notably in Iraq, Syria and Egypt — where they have been exposed to heinous crimes, forcing them to flee,” the patriarchs said in a statement after the summit and meeting with diplomats.
They lamented the indifference of both Islamic authorities and the international community over attacks against Christians, who have been in the region for 2,000 years.
“What is painful is the absence of a stance by Islamic authorities, and the international community has not adopted a strict stance either,” the patriarchs said.
“We call for issuing a fatwa (Islamic religious ruling) that forbids attacks against others,” they said.
“The international community cannot keep silent about the existence of the so-called ISIS,” the patriarchs said, referring to the Islamic State. “They should put an end to all extremist terrorist groups and criminalize aggression against Christians and their properties.”
The prelates’ meeting was a follow-up to their first summit Aug. 7. It also follows a trip by several of them to Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region, to give moral and spiritual support to the flood of Iraqi minorities driven from the Ninevah Plain by the Islamic State militants.
The prelates stressed the need for cutting off the sources of terrorism and called on the world’s major powers to deprive extremist groups of resources by compelling countries financing them to stop their support.
Solutions to the Islamic State crisis must involve “dealing with the reasons that produced the miseries in the Middle East,” and harmony must be restored between the components of these countries, they said.
“The international community must act and eradicate” the Islamic State, the patriarchs said. “This is required from the United Nations and the U.N. Security Council.”
“We must stop using extremists, terrorists and mercenaries and (stop) supporting, financing and arming them,” they said.
They also stressed “the necessity of working to liberate the towns of Ninevah and facilitate the return of the displaced to their homes, in addition to ensuring the security of these towns with local and international guarantees to prevent displacement.”
The patriarchs denounced the “bleeding” that continues in Syria and said the conflict there must be solved by “dialogue and through a political solution.” They criticized the international community for not resolving the April 2013 kidnapping of two Orthodox bishops in Syria.
The prelates applauded the region’s Christians, who “are committed to the values of the Gospel and the teachings of Christ” exemplified in their relationships with others, “including their Muslim brothers, who live with them in the same nations.”

Read on here.

 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 30, 2014 at 14:09

Boko Haram Says Part of Nigeria an Islamic State

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Theology and Society:

Boko Haram militants claim that they are turning Nigeria into an Islamic caliphate. The Muslim extremist organization is in control of three Nigerian towns, and continues to gain power and influence in the region, the Christian Headlines website reports today (August 29, 2014).

In video, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is seen announcing, “Thanks be to Allah who gave victory to our brethren in Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic caliphate… By the grace of Allah we will not leave the town. We have come to stay.”

The militants conquered Gwoza on August 6, destroying homes and killing many residents. Some survivors fled to surrounding mountains, as well as bordering nation Cameroon.

Officials fear that Boko Haram is working with Islamic State terrorists, who have taken control of large regions of Syria and Iraq, and have given Christians in their seized land one of three choices: Convert to Islam, pay a non-Islam tax, or be killed.

 

 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 29, 2014 at 21:26

Pope Francis Donates $1 Million to Iraqi Refugees

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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has given $1 million as a personal contribution to help Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq who have been forced from their homes, according to his personal envoy to the country.
Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, visited Erbil as Pope Francis’ envoy from Aug. 12-20.
Erbil, where more than 70,000 Christians have fled from the Islamic State, is the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan and is within 50 miles of territory held by the Islamic State.
Cardinal Filoni met in private with Pope Francis the day after he returned to Rome and spoke to CNA Aug. 22.
Cardinal Filoni said he carried with him one-tenth of the Pope’s contribution and that “75% of the money was delivered to Catholics and the remaining 25% to the Yazidi community.”
The Islamic State is a recently established caliphate that has persecuted all non-Sunnis in its territory, which extends across swaths of Iraq and Syria.
“Pope Francis gave me a humanitarian mission, not a diplomatic mission, and this is what I always emphasized to Iraqi authorities,” Cardinal Filoni said.
The Pope’s decision to send a personal envoy to Iraq, the cardinal said, “meant to me that, if he had been able to go, he would have.”
Cardinal Filoni recounted that Pope Francis entrusted him with letters for Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and Iraqi President Fuad Masum, presenting him “as his personal envoy and expressing his concern for what Christians and minorities in general are suffering, because they have been uprooted from their lands and persecuted.”
The Islamic State has forced more than 1.2 million Christians, Yazidis and Shia Muslims from their homes in Iraq, under threat of death or heavy fines if they do not convert.
In the face of such violence, Cardinal Filoni said intervention to stop the aggressor is a legitimate option.
“The Church does not back any war. The right to defend one’s self is legitimate. But our Christians in Iraq have no arms. Therefore, it is necessary that someone — in this case, the legitimate authorities of the country — should defend minorities, especially those most in danger.”

Read more here.

 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 25, 2014 at 20:50

California Persecuting Christians

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(One News Now) – Romanian Christians are familiar with persecution in their home country but they didn’t expect to encounter it in America.

The Holy Resurrection Romanian Orthodox Church struggled to find a place to worship in California. After finding a place in the Rio Linda area of Sacramento, church members discovered their biggest stumbling block is city government.

Brad Dacus, founder of Pacific Justice Institute, says one reason Sacramento gave for refusing permission was the location was near a bar, so the location might not be compatible with the neighborhood.

“Another reason given was that they said there were too many churches already,” says Dacus, whose law firm is representing the church. “You know, it’s not the business of government to dictate how many churches we need.”

Church members were shocked at the city’s attitude and observed that it reminded them of the hostilities they experienced in Romania, which had been ruled under Communism for almost 30 years during the Cold War.

The country’s most infamous leader was Nicolae Ceausescu, whose reign of terror included spying on and imprisoning churchgoers.

Dacus explains: “They recognized clear similarities of the hostility that they had experienced in Romania, being persecuted as Christians, and they were having some of the same kind of resistance to be able to have a place to worship here in the United States.”

The law firm reported in a press release that PJI attorney Kevin Snider spoke on the church’s behalf at a planning commission meeting, where a 5-0 vote approved the church’s plans

Source.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 23, 2014 at 23:18

Are We Ignoring the Lessons Of Auschwitz?

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Walking among the starvation cells and gas chambers where more than a million souls perished, it is hard to explain to my 12-year-old son how the free world allowed this happen. Why did the world’s democracies not stop the Nazi movement in its infancy — before it indoctrinated millions with its hateful ideology, took control of a great power, built its military might, invaded foreign lands and constructed death camps like the one here at Auschwitz?
The depressing answer is: for the same reason that the world’s democracies have done almost nothing to stop the rise of the Islamic State.
It is difficult to describe the feeling of spending a day at Auschwitz and then watching the images emanating from the Middle East, where the Islamic State is carrying out acts of unspeakable barbarism — beheading unbelievers; sticking decapitated heads on posts; burying women and children alive; randomly shooting pedestrians and motorists; even crucifying — yes, crucifying — its opponents.

The entire article can be read here.

 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 19, 2014 at 17:08

Our Sufferings Are The Prelude Of Those That You Will Also Suffer

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So warns the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul.

Amel Shimoun Nona, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul, Iraq, who is now living in exile, warned that his diocese is now run by radical Muslims and that “liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here,” adding that “Islam does not say that all men are equal,” and if Westerners “do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed into your home.”
The Chaldean Catholic Church is an Eastern Rite church, under the authority of Pope Francis. In an interview with Corriere della Sera, Archbishop Amel Nona, now living in exile in Erbil, in Kurdistan Iraq, commented on his diocese in Mosul being overrun by radical Islamists.
“Our sufferings today are the prelude of those that you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer in the near future,” said the archbishop.  “I lost my diocese. The physical setting of my apostolate has been occupied by Islamic radicals who want us converted or dead. But my community is still alive.”
“Please, try to understand us,” he said. “Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here. You must consider again our reality in the Middle East, because you are welcoming in your countries an ever growing number of Muslims.”
“Also, you are in danger,” said the archbishop.  “You must take strong and courageous decisions, even at the cost of contradicting your principles.”
“You think all men are equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are equal,” said Archbishop Nona.  “Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home.”

Rest here.

 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 18, 2014 at 21:30

For a Long Life, Have Faith

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Religious faith remains by far the best predictor of a long, healthy life, according to an article in The Telegraph.

Man jogging in woods

Unless, of course, you’re a Christian in Iraq.

 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 18, 2014 at 17:13

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