Pray for Our Brothers and Sisters in Egypt

Copts

I apologize for talking about this now, on Sunday.

But the weight of grief and oppression I felt Friday — which is the day I usually write about our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ — has lifted, and I feel compelled to talk about it now.

According to Asia News, at least 58 Christian churches, schools, homes and shops have been attacked, looted and torched in Egypt in the last three days. The Christians of Egypt need our prayers today on this Lord’s Day.

Sunday is a time of rejoicing and feasting, our Sabbath of thankfulness for the Resurrection and its promise of eternal life. But on this Sunday, it is also a time for us to unite ourselves with Christ crucified all over the world.

Jesus suffers this minute in Egypt. His churches, convents, institutions and homes are burnt and destroyed. His people are subjected to terror and all forms of violence.

This is the face of Christ Crucified in our world today.

We can not ignore our Suffering Savior in these His people.

I hope that you will pray the Novena for the Persecuted Church that we began today. I hope also that you will pray and ask God to show you how you may help our persecuted brothers and sisters.

The list below is the names of the churches, convents and institutions that have been attacked that we know of. From Asia News:

Catholic churches and convents

  • 1. Franciscan church and school (road 23) – burned (Suez)
  • 2. Monastery of the Holy Shepherd and hospital – burned (Suez)
  • 3. Church of the Good Shepherd, Monastery of the Good Shepherd – burned in molotov attack (Asuit)
  • 4. Coptic Catholic Church of St. George – burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
  • 5. Church of the Jesuits – burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
  • 6. Fatima Basilica – attacked – Heliopolis
  • 7. Coptic Catholic Church of St. Mark – burned (Minya – Upper Egypt)
  • 8. Franciscan convent (Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) – burned (Beni Suef, Upper Egypt)
  • 9. Church of St. Teresa – burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
  • 10. Franciscan Church and School – burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
  • 11. Convent of St Joseph and school – burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
  • 12. Coptic Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart – torched (Minya, Upper Egypt)
  • 13 Convent of the Sisters of Saint Mary – attacked (Cairo)
  • 14. School of the Holy Shepherd – attacked (Minya, Upper Egypt)

  • Orthodox and Evangelical Churches
  • 1. Anglican Church of St. Saviour – burned (Suez)
  • 2. Evangelical Church of St Michael – surrounded and sacked (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
  • 3. Coptic Orthodox Church of St. George – Burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
  • 4. Church of Al-Esla – burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
  •  5. Adventist Church – burned, the pastor and his wife abducted (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
  •  6. Church of the Apostles – burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
  •  7. Church of the Holy renewal – burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
  • 8. Diocesan Centre Coptic Orthodox Qusiya – burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
  • 9. Church of St. George – burned (Arish, North Egypt)
  • 10. Church of St. George in al-Wasta – burned (Beni Suef, Upper Egypt)
  • 11. Church of the Virgin Mary – attacked (Maadi, Cairo)
  • 12. Church of the Virgin Mary – attacked (Mostorod, Cairo)
  • 13. Coptic Orthodox Church of St. George – attacked (Helwan, Cairo)
  • 14. Church of St. Mary of El Naziah – burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
  • 15. Church of Santa Damiana – sacked and burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
  • 16. Church of St. Theodore – burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
  • 17. Evangelical Church of al-Zorby – Sacked and destroyed (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
  • 18. Church of St. Joseph – burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
  • 19. Franciscan School – burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
  • 20. Coptic Orthodox Diocesan Center of St. Paul – burned (Gharbiya, Delta)
  • 21. Coptic Orthodox Church of St. Anthony – burned (Giza)
  • 22. Coptic Church of St. George – burned (Atfeeh, Giza)
  • 23. Church of the Virgin Mary and father Abraham – burned (Delga, Deir Mawas, Minya, Upper Egypt)
  • 24. Church of St. Mina Abu Hilal Kebly – burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
  • 25. Baptist Church in Beni Mazar – burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
  • 26. Church of Amir Tawadros – burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
  • 27. Evangelical Church – burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
  • 28. Church of Anba Moussa al-Aswad- burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
  • 29. Church of the Apostles – burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
  • 30. Church of St Mary – arson attempt (Qena, Upper Egypt)
  • 31. Coptic Church of St. George – burned (Sohag, Upper Egypt)
  • 32. Church of Santa Damiana – Attacked and burned (Sohag, Upper Egypt)
  • 33. Church of the Virgin Mary – burned (Sohag, Upper Egypt)
  • 34. Church of St. Mark and community center – burned (Sohag, Upper Egypt)
  • 35. Church of Anba Abram – destroyed and burned (Sohag, Upper Egypt)

  • Christian institutions
  • 1. House of Fr. Angelos (pastor of the church of the Virgin Mary and Father Abraham) – burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
  • 2. Properties and shops of Christians – Burnt (Arish, North Egypt)
  • 3. 17 Christian homes attacked and looted (Minya, Upper Egypt)
  • 4. Christian homes – Attach (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
  • 5. Offices of the Evangelical Foundation – burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
  • 6. Stores, pharmacies, hotels owned by Christians – attacked and looted (Luxor, Upper Egypt)
  • 7. Library of the Bible Society – burned (Cairo)
  • 8. Bible Society – burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
  • 9. Bible Society- burned (Asuit, North Egypt).

Pope Francis and Egypt’s Coptic Pope Tawadros Meet, Pray Together

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There is one Jesus. 

Every difference between Christians is a difference that human beings have created. Because there is one Jesus and He is the same Jesus for all of us.

We live in an era with rising violent persecution of Christians in much of the world. That is coupled with a militant secularism that appears to be setting up the framework for legal discrimination and marginalization of Christians in most of the rest of the world. 

Christians must stand together against these threats. 

It gladdened my heart when I saw the photos of Pope Francis and Pope Tawadros, laughing, talking and praying together. 

According to a CNA article, Pope Tawadros had this to say:

“We must prepare our people for this very real and needed unity that we know and live, we must work quickly and seriously,” said Pope Tawadros II in May 10 remarks provided to CNA by his office.

His visit to the Vatican is significant because he leades Egypt’s largest Christian Church with ten million members, as well as historic, since the May 9-13 trip is the first to Rome in 40 years.

“The rising of Islamic parties in countries like Egypt and Syria means Christians are now feeling they are second or third class citizens,” said Father Rafic Greiche, director of the press office for the Catholic Church in Egypt.

“We Egyptian Christians want our brothers of all world churches to help us, to pray for us and to be real brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,” he told CNA on May 10 in Rome. (Read the rest here.)

I agree with this sentiment. Christians must help Christians. 

Here, from Vatican Radio is Pope Francis’ statement:

Your Holiness,

Dear Brothers in Christ,

For me it is a great joy and a truly graced moment to be able to receive all of you here, at the tomb of Saint Peter, as we recall that historic meeting forty years ago between our predecessors, Pope Paul VI and the late Pope Shenouda III, in an embrace of peace and fraternity, after centuries of mutual distrust. So it is with deep affection that I welcome Your Holiness and the distinguished members of your delegation, and I thank you for your words. Through you, I extend my cordial greetings in the Lord to the bishops, the clergy, the monks and the whole Coptic Orthodox Church.
Today’s visit strengthens the bonds of friendship and brotherhood that already exist between the See of Peter and the See of Mark, heir to an inestimable heritage of martyrs, theologians, holy monks and faithful disciples of Christ, who have borne witness to the Gospel from generation to generation, often in situations of great adversity.

Forty years ago the Common Declaration of our predecessors represented a milestone on the ecumenical journey, and from it emerged a Commission for Theological Dialogue between our Churches, which has yielded good results and has prepared the ground for a broader dialogue between the Catholic Church and the entire family of Oriental Orthodox Churches, a dialogue that continues to bear fruit to this day. In that solemn Declaration, our Churches acknowledged that, in line with the apostolic traditions, they profess “one faith in the One Triune God” and “the divinity of the Only-begotten Son of God … perfect God with respect to his divinity, perfect man with respect to his humanity”. They acknowledged that divine life is given to us and nourished through the seven sacraments and they recognized a mutual bond in their common devotion to the Mother of God.

We are glad to be able to confirm today what our illustrious predecessors solemnly declared, we are glad to recognize that we are united by one Baptism, of which our common prayer is a special expression, and we long for the day when, in fulfilment of the Lord’s desire, we will be able to communicate from the one chalice.

Of course we are well aware that the path ahead may still prove to be long, but we do not want to forget the considerable distance already travelled, which has taken tangible form in radiant moments of communion, among which I am pleased to recall the meeting in February 2000 in Cairo between Pope Shenouda III and Blessed John Paul II, who went as a pilgrim, during the Great Jubilee, to the places of origin of our faith. I am convinced that – under the guidance of the Holy Spirit – our persevering prayer, our dialogue and the will to build communion day by day in mutual love will allow us to take important further steps towards full unity.

Your Holiness, I am aware of the many marks of attention and fraternal charity that you have shown, since the early days of your ministry, to the Catholic Coptic Church, to its Pastor, Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak and to his predecessor, Cardinal Antonios Naguib. The institution of a “National Council of Christian Churches”, which you strongly desired, represents an important sign of the will of all believers in Christ to develop relations in daily life that are increasingly fraternal and to put themselves at the service of the whole of Egyptian society, of which they form an integral part. Let me assure you that your efforts to build communion among believers in Christ, and your lively interest in the future of your country and the role of the Christian communities within Egyptian society find a deep echo in the heart of the Successor of Peter and of the entire Catholic community.

“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together” (1 Cor 12:26). This is a law of the Christian life, and in this sense we can say that there is also an ecumenism of suffering: just as the blood of the martyrs was a seed of strength and fertility for the Church, so too the sharing of daily sufferings can become an effective instrument of unity. And this also applies, in a certain sense, to the broader context of society and relations between Christians and non-Christians: from shared suffering can blossom forth forgiveness and reconciliation, with God’s help.

Your Holiness, in assuring you of my prayers that the whole flock entrusted to your pastoral care may be ever faithful to the Lord’s call, I invoke the protection of both Saint Peter and Saint Mark: may they who during their lifetime worked together in practical ways for the spread of the Gospel, intercede for us and accompany the journey of our Churches.

Text from page 
http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/05/10/pope_francis_welcomes_egypts_coptic_orthodox_pope_tawadros/en1-690886 
of the Vatican Radio website 

Christian Persecution: Six Quick Takes

Easter isn’t all new clothes, gorgeous masses in stunning church buildings and arguments about red shoes and foot washing. 

In some places, Calvary is present in the lives of the people. The Church itself and all its Christian people hang on the cross of persecution.

In other places, such as the United States and Great Britain, society is moving along the continuum toward violent persecution. Christians in those two countries have come to expect and accept that they will be subjected to hate speech against Christians, Christian-bashing on web sites. They are increasingly being forced to accept that they face growing legal discrimination against Christians and moves to force Christian speech and expression out of the public sphere. We are at the “you can go to church all you want, but leave it there,” phase of discrimination, and this discrimination is rapidly becoming government-enforced.

At the same time, Christians in Egypt fear being kidnapped with no police support to stop it. Christians in Bangladesh have their children stolen and trafficked and again, the police do not punish the traffickers. Christians in North Korea are imprisoned and worked to death. Christians in Nigeria are murdered, tortured and their churches are burned.

I could go on. But there is too much of it for one post.

Here is this week’s roundup of Christian persecution in Six Quick Takes.

 

Christian church destroyed nigeria

1. Nigeria: Easter Attacks Kill 80, Thousands of Christians Flee to the Hills 

By BosNewsLife Africa Service – “Nigerian Christians appealed for prayers Tuesday, April 2, after Easter season violence in troubled central Nigeria left as many as 80 people dead and displaced some 4,500 others.

At least 19 people were killed since Easter Sunday when gunmen believed to be nomadic Muslim cattle herders attacked the mostly Christian Atakar group in Kaura district, a remote area of Kaduna state, officials said.

Witnesses said the attacks on three communities, including the Mafang and Zilang villages, killed many women and children. Kaduna police spokesman Aminu Lawan told reporters his forces were still investigating.

Ataka Christians live near Plateau state where authorities claimed fighting between cattle herders, who are mainly Fulani Muslims, and Christian villages killed nearly 60 people in recent days.

The area is on the uneasy dividing line between Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north and largely Christian south…

Christians said that following Sunday’s violence, thousands of villagers fled to the nearby hills. (Read more here.)


Trafficked children bangladesh

2. Bangladesh: Christian Children Re-Captured By Trafficker

Eleven of the 16 Christian children who were rescued from Muslim traffickers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Jan. 2 have again gone missing. Sources in the Christian community, as well as reports in local newspapers, report that they believe the children were re-trafficked and taken to madrassas, Islamic training centers, where they will likely be forced to convert to Islam and study the Quran.

Eleven Christian children, originally from the Rangamati district of Chittagong Hill Tracts, disappeared for the second time earlier this year after being given back to the custody of their parents. “We were not aware that our child would be taken to a madrassa,” one parent told International Christian Concern (ICC).

The children, along with five others, had been rescued by police from a madrassa in the Abuzor Giffari Mosque Complex in Dhaka. The children had been missing for months. They were returned to their parents soon after their rescue, but traffickers continually threatened the parents until the recent re-disappearance of the children. Local authorities say the children were likely trafficked again to madrassas and are concerned that they will be forcibly converted to Islam.

“The [leader] of the traffickers gives a large sum of money to the traffickers to take the kids to the madrassa,” said an ICC source. “Because of this, they threatened the parents and took their children, again, to a madrassa. It is all because of large sums of money, and because there are no punishments for the trafficker.” (Read more here.)


NKorea lightbox

3. North Korea:  Number 1 for Christian Persecution

North Korea is the most hostile place for Christians around the globe,  according to the annual “World Watch” list from the Open Doors Organization.

The list ranks the 50 countries where Christian persecution is most severe. North Korea tops the 2013 list, thus holding its ranking for the eleventh year running.

“Christians are classified as hostile and face arrest, detention, torture, even public execution,” the Open Doors report said. (Read more here.)


 

Union jack

4. Great Britain: Majority of Church-Going Christians Feel Persecuted and Marginalized

Over two-thirds of Christians in the United Kingdom feel part of a victimized minority, and David Cameron is making that worse by redefining marriage, the Coalition for Marriage says.

In a new poll commissioned by the group, almost eight in 10 said the prime minister’s same-sex marriage plan will lead to those who back traditional marriage facing the sack.

More than two-thirds (67 percent) said they felt part of a “persecuted minority.”

Marginalized
The survey also showed that over half of the U.K.’s Christians who voted Conservative in 2010 would “definitely not” do so again in 2015.

Colin Hart, campaign director of the Coalition for Marriage, said the poll showed “widespread and continued opposition towards David Cameron’s plans to redefine marriage.”

He added: “More worryingly it shows how Christians and those of faith are being treated like illegal aliens in their own country. They are being marginalized and persecuted for their beliefs. (Read more here.)


Egypt kidnapping

5. Egypt: Christians Targeted for Kidnappings

MATAI, Egypt (AP) — Ezzat Kromer’s resistance to his kidnappers did not last long. One of the masked gunmen fired a round between his feet as he sat behind the wheel of his car and said with chilling calm, “The next one will go into your heart.”

The Christian gynecologist says he was bundled into his abductors’ vehicle, forced to lie under their feet in the back seat for a 45-minute ride, then dumped in a small cold room while his kidnappers contacted his family over a ransom.

For the next 27 hours, he endured beatings, insults and threats to his life, while blindfolded, a bandage sealing his mouth and cotton balls in his ears.

Kromer’s case is part of a dramatic rise of kidnappings targetingChristians, including children, in Egypt‘s southern province of Minya, home to the country’s largest concentration of Christians but also a heartland for Islamist hard-liners.

The kidnappings are mostly blamed on criminal gangs, which operate more freely amid Egypt’s collapse in security since the 2011 fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Crime has risen in general across Egypt, hitting Muslims as well. But the wave of kidnappings in Minya has specifically targeted Christians, and victims, church leaders and rights activists ultimately blame the atmosphere created by the rising power of hard-line Islamists.

They contend criminals are influenced by the rhetoric of radical clerics depicting Egypt’s Christian minority as second-class citizens and see Christians as fair game, with authorities less likely to investigate crimes against the community.

Over the past two years, there have been more than 150 reported kidnappings in the province — all of them targeting Christians, according to a top official at the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the police. (Read the rest here.)


Cross Flag

6. United States: Pro Life Student Group Banned at Johns Hopkins University

.- A pro-life student group at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., is appealing a denial of official recognition, saying that it is being discriminated against for its views against abortion.

Kristan Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life of America, told CNA that this decision is surprising, given that Johns Hopkins administration and students “pride themselves on being a ‘free speech campus’ – allowing dissenting opinions on campus and allowing a free exchange of ideas on campus.”

She added that there is a need for “upholding freedom of speech that isn’t popular.”

Voice for Life, a pro-life organization that is trying to re-start on the Johns Hopkins campus after several years of dormancy, has been rejected multiple times by the university’s student government, despite receiving clearance from the necessary committees as having met all campus requirements. (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: 10,000 Egyptian Christians Stand for Jesus at One Thing

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An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide face arrest, interrogation and even death for their faith in Christ. Many millions more face discrimination and alienation.

Yet they do no recant their faith. In the face of violent persecution, Christians the world over continue to stand for Christ.

This was particularly apparent when 10,000 Egyptian Christians recently gathered in the desert for a three-day praise and worship service. According to Open Doors World Watch, Egypt is ranked 15 out of the 50 countries that are the worse persecutors of Christians.

The three-day service was called “One Thing” after Psalm 27:4: “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”

The Open Doors article about the One Thing reads in part:

Increased persecution, the election of a Muslim Brotherhood president, and the death of the Coptic Church pope has led to thousands

fleeing Egypt in fear of the future.

But there have been rays of the light of Jesus breaking through the gloom.

Earlier this month about 10,000 Christian young people came from all across Egypt for three days to worship the Lord and to seek God’s blessing for their country. The worshippers, mostly ranging from ages 13 to 30, gathered from 10 o’clock in the morning until 8 each evening. Many traveled hundreds of miles to the worship site in the middle of the desert north of Cairo.

“To sit among over 10,000 young people, worship with them in a roaring holy noise, listen to powerful and challenging messages and pray for God’s powerful presence in our lives; really, it is hard to describe in words,” says a Christian leader. “Sitting at the very back of the small soccer stadium gave me a good view of the scene. Thousands were sitting to my right, thousands to my left and thousands more in the middle. Hardly any empty gaps!

“The wonderful fact is that these young people came from all over Egypt. About 3,000 of them came all the way from many cities located in southern Egypt. They were accommodated in conference facilities available nearby. As for the remaining 7,000, they had to come all the way, every day, riding in the morning from Cairo and Alexandria in about 130 big buses, and then ride back home every evening for the night.”

According to the church leader, another 2 million followed the event on Internet and live satellite transmission.(Read more here.)


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