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Report: Christian persecution at its highest point in 30 years

Downloads 3,917 Monument to Party Founding, Pyongyang, North Korea. (Image: Steve Barker/Unsplash.com)

Rome Newsroom, Jan 18, 2023 / 13:05 pm (CNA).

The persecution of Christians is at its highest point in three decades, according to the latest report from advocacy group Open Doors.

The World Watch List, released by Open Doors on Jan. 18, reported that, overall, the number of Christians facing persecution worldwide remained steady in 2022 at approximately 360 million.

In a list of the 50 countries with the most persecution, North Korea returned to the first spot in 2022. The year prior, Afghanistan had landed in the top ranking following the Taliban’s takeover of the country’s government.

Afghanistan ranks ninth in the latest list because the country’s Christians have either been killed, fled, or are in strict hiding, according to Open Doors’ Italian director Cristian Nani.

The few Christians who remain in Afghanistan are living like the early Church, Nani said at a Jan. 18 presentation of the World Watch List at Italy’s Chamber of Deputies. “They live the faith in secret because it’s the only way to live it in safety.”

Nani explained that today there is an increasing phenomenon of a “refugee” church, due to the number of Christians fleeing persecution.

The other countries classified as having “extreme” levels of Christian persecution this year are Somalia, Yemen, Eritrea, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Sudan, and India.

In sub-Saharan Africa, anti-Christian violence has reached “unprecedented intensity,” the report said.

Nigeria continues to be the epicenter of massacres with 5,014 Christians killed in 2022, nearly 90% of the total number of Christians killed worldwide — 5,621.

Almost 90% of kidnappings carried out against Christians in 2022 also took place in Nigeria, where Nani said there is a kidnapping “business” taking place.

He said an all-too-common scenario is the kidnapping of a Christian man’s wife and daughters, who will frequently endure sexual violence and sex trafficking before they are released for a ransom.

In addition to its Watch List, Nani said Open Doors is working to find “radical solutions” to persecution and to help persecuted Christians find healing and forgiveness, and to “break the circle of violence.”

Andrea Benzo, special envoy for the protection of religious freedom in Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called Christian persecution not just a lack of freedom of worship but a failure of society.

He noted the popularity of the subject of “rights” in Italy and other Western countries while the human right to religious liberty is ignored.

The World Watch List also underlined continuing Christian persecution in China, which is No. 16 on the list.

China, it said, “is forging an international alliance to redefine human rights,” while more countries adopt “the Chinese model of centralized control of the freedom of religion.”

A member of Italy’s Chamber of Deputies, Andrea Delmastro Della Vedove, said Italy needs to have the courage to propose the principles of religious liberty in countries where it is not properly respected.

He said the Italian government should put pressure on the international community to promote religious pluralism.

Delmastro is the president of an inter-parliamentary group for the protection of the religious freedom of Christians formed in 2019 by the right-wing party Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy), part of the coalition now in power in Italy.

He asked people to consider what lands on the front pages of newspapers and asked: “What could our abandoned brothers and sisters in the Middle East and China think about that?”

Pope Francis asked for prayers for persecuted Christians after his weekly public audience on Jan. 18. He said he is praying for Father Isaac Achi, a Catholic priest who died after bandits set fire to his parish rectory in northern Nigeria on Sunday.


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7 Comments

  1. Christophobia is active in the US. The persecution is not overt but just as serious. The LGBT movement along with the Drag Queen events and the sex trafficking of children presents a direct affront to Christianity in general and to Catholics in particular. Legalized abortion is another example. So are accusations of “White Supremacy,” which include Critical Race Theory. They dismiss the achievements of Western Civilization while attacking and demeaning Europeans. The war in Ukraine has Christians killing Christians. I do not regard that as a coincidence. Who benefits? The war on Christianity is the big social problem of modern times not the other thing which we are constantly told is the problem and growing.

  2. The only thing I ever hear in church about the persecution of Christians in other lands is when I have personal conversations with foreign priests staffed in my parish outside of Mass. Why do we not try to get some of them and their families out? What are we doing with all these empty convents which could be used to house them until they get on their feet here? Why is there no leadership from the church on this issue?

    • Interesting suggestion.You need to understand that nationality too plays an important factor.How many families can you accomodate3% of Indians are Christian,Who will accomodate so many ,by the way its my country I want to live here

  3. Whenever reports are published regarding the persecution of Christians, you can bet that practitioners/believers of Islam will be the greatest persecutors or among the greatest each and every time the reports are provided periodically.

    Sadly, what also typically follows such reports in various outlets are statements made by a number of Islamic and non-Islamic apologists (i.e., excuse makers) like Pope Francis who insist that such persecution by Muslims is only done by misguided Muslims who practice a “radical Islam” instead of following their “moderate (‘religion of peace’) Islam.” It can get confusing for many, so below is a handy guide that provides actual Islamic doctrine and practices to help you tell the difference between “radical” Islam and “moderate Islam.

    Radical Islam Teaches the Following:

    1. Muhammad is the ideal human being. One way we know this is because he married Aisha when she was 6 years old, but he considerately waited until she was 9 before consummating his marriage to her.

    2. Muhammad is Allah’s prophet.

    3.Muhammad is superior to Jesus Christ who was only a prophet and not God.

    4.Jesus Christ was not crucified, nor did He rise from the dead.

    5.Sharia Law should be the law of every land.

    6.Death is the punishment for apostasy from Islam.

    7.The Quran is the perfect word of Allah that was dictated word for word to Muhammad.

    8.All true Muslims follow the commands of the Quran.

    9.Muslim husbands are commanded to beat disobedient wives.

    10.Muslims are commanded to wage jihad against non-believers in Islam. This includes killing them, torturing them, and humiliating them…unless they convert to Islam.

    But on the other hand….

    Moderate Islam Teaches the Following:

    1. Muhammad is the ideal human being. One way we know this is because he married Aisha when she was 6 years old, but he considerately waited until she was 9 before consummating his marriage to her.

    2. Muhammad is Allah’s prophet.

    3.Muhammad is superior to Jesus Christ who was only a prophet and not God.

    4.Jesus Christ was not crucified, nor did He rise from the dead.

    5.Sharia Law should be the law of every land.

    6.Death is the punishment for apostasy from Islam.

    7.The Quran is the perfect word of Allah that was dictated word for word to Muhammad.

    8.All true Muslims follow the commands of the Quran.

    9.Muslim husbands are commanded to beat disobedient wives.

    10.Muslims are commanded to wage jihad against non-believers in Islam. This includes killing them, torturing them, and humiliating them…unless they convert to Islam.
    ________________________________

    Now that you have a better understanding of the differences between “radical” and “moderate” Islam, you should also be able to have a better understanding why Christians are persecuted by many Muslims.

    • Francis does not even denounce radical Islam by name. It’s always “religious fundamentalism” or just plain old “violence”. He targets his enemies his inside the Church with more force and specificity.

  4. President Putin visited the reliquary of St. Nicholas on May 24, 2O17, in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. (It was on loan from Italy. Nice videos on Youtube.) This was between bombings of civilian structures, first in Syria, and now in Ukraine. On May 29, 2O17 (five days later), the worst storm in more than 1OO years struck Moscow, killing 16 people, and wreaking general havoc on the city. Ukraine’s Christians wage a violent war with Russia, with Christians slaughtering Christians. This ultimately will destroy the economies of the Western world, when the requests for funds to rebuild an entire nation roll in. I sure hope that some day we can get the money to fix the new lights on the Lewis and Clark bridge that spans the Columbia River between Rainier, Oregon and Longview, Washington — but I don’t hold out much hope of that happening soon.

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