Help the Church in Need denounces persecution of Christians in 20 countries
Help to the Church in Need in Italy presented in Rome the conclusions of its study “Persecuted more than ever. Report on the anti-Christian persecution between 2017 and 2019 ”.
This report presented on October 24 examines the development of the 20 countries most affected by this human rights violation from July 2017 until today and shows that Christians are the religious group that is most persecuted and the axis of Islamic fundamentalism has moved of Africa and South and East Asia.
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, described the report presented by Help to the Church in Need as "a precious instrument."
This pontifical foundation denounced that there are almost 300 million Christians living in countries where there is persecution. In the period studied, the situation has not improved and the countries of Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Sri Lanka have joined the list of suffering Christians.
These last two countries represent, according to Alessandro Monteduro, director of ACN Italy, the most dramatic examples of this changing scenario of the anti-Christian persecution that finds new forms and new territories due to the inefficiency of the strategies that have been implemented so far.
“The ACN study unfortunately demonstrates that the military response is not enough. In fact, since 2017 since the defeat of ISIS in northern Iraq and in much of Syria, we have assisted in the migration of terrorism in other parts of the world, especially in Africa and in southern and eastern Asia, ”said Monteduro.
He also explained that “the 20 countries that Help the Church in Need show as territories where Christian minorities suffer persecution, bring together more than 4 billion people. The defense of religious freedom should be a higher priority than ever on the agenda of the great national powers and supranational institutions. However, this is not the case yet, ”said the director of ACN Italia.
Although diplomatic relations have improved between the chiefs of Western nations and their counterparts in regimes, such as North Korea or China, this does not mean an improvement in the conditions of Christians in those areas, as Alfredo Mantovano, president of ACN Italy.
“We cannot deceive ourselves that the possible reduction of arms or the signing of economic cooperation treaties within the borders corresponds to a decrease in religious persecution. The silk route is also easily traversed by weapons and money. While countries like Italy accept the agreements with the Chinese subcontinent, the Christians there suffer a reduction in their possibilities of making public faith manifestations, as well as in private, that are not controlled by the party structures, ”said Mantovano.
This report also shows that in the South and East Asia during the period under review, some stronger anti-Christian attacks have been verified, such as the one that took place in Sri Lanka on Easter Day and cost 258 people their lives.
During the presentation of this report, the rector of the San Antonio Sanctuary in Colombo was present, Fr. K. A Jude Raj Fernando, who told of the tragic moments in which his church was attacked.
“I couldn't believe what I was seeing with my eyes. I saw my dead, bloody parishioners and wondered, my God! Why? ”But despite the great injury this caused, we remained strong in our faith, which allows us to forgive our persecutors. We forgive and keep asking for justice for our victims. That is why we pray every day, ”said Fr. Jude Raj Fernando.
This ACN report also denounces the dramatic situation in Africa, where in recent years there has been an increase in jihadist formations that have beaten Christians in more places.
In anti-Christian violence the highest price is paid by priests and religious. In fact, of the 18 priests and 1 religious killed in the world during the year 2019, 15 of them died in Africa, specifically 3 in Burkina Faso.
In this country, according to Fr. Roger Kologo, a Burkina priest, “it is an act of true hunting for Christians, who are beaten during processions and public expressions of their faith and are even sought in their own homes to be executed. Since the beginning of the year more than 60 faithful have been killed. ”
The priest explained the tragic escalation of anti-Christian attacks initiated in his own diocese last Good Friday and remembered the kidnapped priest Joel Yougbare.
“The night before the kidnapping we had dinner together. He told me he was going to visit a community in a remote area. He knew it was dangerous, the jihadists had him under control and had followed him more than once, but he did not want to abandon his faithful. He is a very brave man and we continue to pray for him to continue with life. ”