01-01-2006 - Traces, n.1
New persecutions


The mass media does not speak of it, but over 160,000 Christians lose their lives every year for their faith

by Antonio Socci

Maria, an eighteen-year-old Egyptian, is the same age, and even has the same name as my daughter. She is Christian, and for this reason, one day, at a birthday party at her friend’s house–according to The Observer–she was kidnapped by Muslim fanatics, enslaved for nine months, raped, and forced to become Muslim (they even used sulphuric acid to erase the cross tattooed on her wrist). She managed to escape, but had to hide for a long time, because it is illegal to “return” from Islam to Christianity. This is only one of the many stories of normal anti-Christian horror in the slaughterhouse of the world. Yusriani (15 years old), Theresia (16), and Alvita (19) as well, their throats slit and decapitated by machete last October in Poso, Indonesia, because of their Catholic faith, were terribly similar to my daughters.
Who would not scream like a madman for his own daughters? And aren’t these girls also our daughters? Aren’t they our friends and brothers, the three poor Christian peasants of Sulawesi condemned to death after being victims of Islamic violence in 2000? In the days when Italy was having concerts, appeals, and protests against the death penalty in the U.S., there was no appeal for these men, awaiting execution; they are already buried… by indifference. No one cries out for them, small and insignificant in the world (as Christians are–cannon fodder) and for all the other Christians swallowed up in the horrors of the Asian concentration camps in China or North Korea. They’re not even prayed for in our churches. For the 160,000 who lose their lives every year for their faith in Christ, there is not even a Sunday of remembrance (as there is for migrants, universities, the mass media, etc.). We should implore with all our being the intercession of the 45 million Christians massacred for the faith in the course of the twentieth century (the largest slaughter of Christian history). When you see the life of the poor Christians in countries like Pakistan, it is amazing how much these simple people are willing to pay for Christ. For them, being Christians means condemning themselves and their children to a life without rights, exposed to every kind of abuse. But they do not renounce Him. They love Him, with simplicity and trust, whereas the “Catholic” editorialists bend over backwards to repeat that Christians are not persecuted. This is the state of affairs. You bring down on yourself all kinds of trouble if you concern yourself with the poor Church of God crucified in the world in the indifference of the mass media. If you go begging for copy space for our humiliated and harrowed brothers, you’ll be called a fanatic, if not worse. “Why do you bother?” they ask. “You would look like a decent guy if you were to show interest for irrelevant things and discuss idiocies like everyone else.” But we’re not in the world for this. The world wants us to be imbeciles, but our father has educated us to open our hearts and intelligence, to become aware of Christ crucified in this moment in the world. We have learned to throw open wide the horizons of our lives to the “total reality” and to love the testimonies of those brothers of ours. And we have met men like Karol Wojtyla.
When we were young, we felt as part of us every Christian forsaken in the four corners of the world. To us, their wounds bled like the scourges of Christ, because they were part of His living body, like us. Can we love His face, His sweet presence, without recognizing it in those who suffer for Him? “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name, welcomes Me” (Mt 18:5).