(Vatican Radio) In many societies today, the utterance of a simple phrase, “I am a Christian”, is a crime punishable by death. So widespread is this persecution that Pope Francis called it a “third world war, waged piecemeal ... a form of genocide”.
The Holy Father spoke primarily of those many who are dying for the Faith today. Yet many more Christians live in constant danger. According to reliable estimates, more than 200 million Christians in 60 countries around the world face some form of restriction on their faith.
Persecution is happening today on a massive scale, and the perpetrators are from everywhere on the globe. They draw their motivation from a wide range of ideologies, from materialistic, from a wide range of ideologies, from materialistic communism to radical Islam. They charge Christians with crimes such as sedition and blasphemy. Persecution is taking place in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, India, China, Nigeria, Sudan, North Korea, and many other lands. It is happening in plain sight. Sometimes the persecutors brazenly post video footage of the execution of Christians on social media.
Yet it is hardly remarked upon in major media outlets. It is barely noticed by diplomats and heads of state. It is, in fact, treated as a political liability. Christian martyrs, it has been said, are too religious to excite the interest of the American left and too foreign to rouse the interest of the right. And so martyrs are abandoned to their fight, left to suffer alone. We see the truth in the observation of the poet W.H. Auden: “even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course / Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot.”
The above text is from the preface of Cardinal Wuerl’s recent book, To the Martyrs: A Christian Reflection on the Supreme Witness (Steubenville, Ohio, Emmaus Road, 2015, 135 pages, US $22.95) with introduction by Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl is Archbishop of Washington, DC in the United States. The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics living in Washington and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.