During their fall meeting this week in Baltimore, the U.S. bishops heard a report from their new Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, led by Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn. It's a measure of how seriously the bishops take the subject that the committee includes heavyweights such as Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington as well as Archbishops Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and Wilton Gregory of Atlanta.
If the U.S. bishops want to get serious about addressing the global panorama of anti-Christian persecution, at least three steps suggest themselves.
First, the bishops could declare an immediate mobilization of U.S. Catholic resources in defense of the Christians of Iraq. Whatever one makes of the rights and wrongs of the war, the fact is that American policy helped create a situation in which Iraq has lost two-thirds of its Christian population in just the last two decades. That implies a special responsibility for Americans, including American Catholics. If nothing else, it shouldn't be possible to address well-informed American audiences and draw blank stares when talking about the anniversary of the attack on Our Lady of Salvation, yet that's been precisely my experience in the last two weeks.
Second, the bishops ought to take similar steps, right now, for Egypt. One Coptic commentator has written that an army assault on Christian demonstrators in Cairo on Oct. 9, known as the "Maspero Massacre" and left 27 people dead and more than 300 injured, has been perceived by many Christians as their Kristallnacht, heralding the beginning of the end. Estimates are that 93,000 Coptic Christians have fled the country since January alone. American Catholics can provide muscle on the policy level, and in the meantime, they can invest human and financial capital in Christian institutions and enterprises in Egypt.
Third, and longer term, the bishops could use their institutional resources to raise the profile of religious freedom issues in American Catholic consciousness. They could encourage research programs at Catholic universities, they could sponsor high-profile lecture series, and they could take advantage of their status as newsmakers to galvanize media interest.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2011, 03:38:12 PM by Jetavan »
If you will, you can become all flame.
Extra caritatem nulla salus.
In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
Ἄνω σχῶμεν τὰς καρδίας
"Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is." -- Mohandas Gandhi
Y dduw bo'r diolch.