Rome (AsiaNews) - Europe has become "distracted and indifferent, blind and dumb to the persecution that today is creating hundreds of thousands of Christian victims. The baptized faithful in countries such as Iraq and Nigeria are living an authentic Calvary, they are being singled out for their faith and subjected to continuous attacks by terrorist groups. Before such an attack on the very foundations of civilization, human dignity and human rights, we cannot remain silent. The West cannot continue to look the other way", writes the presidency of the Italian Bishops' Conference in a statement announcing a day of prayer for persecuted Christians, which will take place on August 15.
In the text, the
bishops recall the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to South Korea: "For our community, this is a
valuable opportunity to approach the reality of the Church: a
young Church, whose history is marked by a major persecution, which lasted nearly a century, in which about 10,000 faithful were
martyred: 103 of them were canonized in 1984, on the occasion
of the second centenary of the origins
of the Catholic community in the country. "
In this light, the bishops write, "it captures the strength of the theme that marks the event: Young Asia! Arise! The glory of the martyrs shines on you: 'If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him '(Rom 6:8). These are words that we should also shake the conscience of our Europe, which has become distracted and indifferent, blind and dumb to the persecution which today has claimed hundreds of thousands of Christian victims".
If the lack of religious freedom - the cornerstone of all other human freedoms - impoverishes large areas of the world, the text continues, "a veritable Calvary unites the baptized in countries such as Iraq and Nigeria, where they are singled out for their faith and subjected to continuous attacks by terrorist groups; driven from their homes and exposed to threats, harassment and violence, they know the humiliation of exile and marginalization, they know death. Their churches are desecrated: ancient relics, as well as statues of the Virgin and the Saints, are destroyed by a fundamentalism which, ultimately, has nothing authentically religious. The Christian presence in these areas - its millennial history, the variety of its traditions and the richness of its culture - is in danger: it risks extinction in the very place where it was born, in the Holy Land".
Faced with such an attack on the foundations
of civilization, human dignity and
human rights, "we cannot
remain silent. The West cannot continue to look the other way, under
the illusion of being able to ignore a humanitarian tragedy that destroys the values that have shaped it and
in which Christians are paying the price
for being indiscriminately confused with a certain model of development. We ask that concern for the future of so many of our brothers and sisters translate into a commitment to inform us about the drama that they are living and which has been regularly denounced by the Pope. "
In this spirit, "we invite all our ecclesial communities to unite in prayer on the occasion of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 15) as a concrete sign of participation with all who are suffering from harsh repression. Through the intercession of the Virgin Mother, may their example also help us to overcome the spiritual aridity of our time and to rediscover the joy of the Gospel and the courage of Christian witness".