Sunday, November 16, 2008

Persecution of Christians is Alive and Well

AsiaNews reports that 50,000 demonstrators marched last weekend in India to protest a murder which, although the police have pointed to Maoist groups as the culprit, has been unfairly blamed on Christians. The marchers called for an end to Christian conversions in their country.
A Zenit report shows that there was an intimidation campaign against Catholic churches ahead of Venezuelan elections. Vandals spraypainted "Homeland, socialism, or death" on the walls of churches in the state of Barinas.
Add that to Christian persecution in the Middle East and China, and we see a pretty grim picture.
I think that we in the Western world, however, have long felt that this a distant concern. Sure, we may suffer ridicule for our beliefs, but at most it is a soft persecution; our society's belief in human rights and religious freedom should protect us from anything like this happening here. And in that sense of security, we ignore what is happening before our very eyes.
Look at how many reacted after Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, passed in California. There was a website created as a blacklist of those who supported the measure. An elderly woman holding a cross at a protest had it knocked out of her hands, before it was trampled on. A group of Christians praying were threatened and abused just for being in a "gay" district.
Look at the fight over abortion. Many bishops are concerned that if the Freedom of Choice Act (which Barack Obama has promised to sign) passes, Catholic hospitals will be forced to choose between performing abortions or losing their funding. If this were to happen, a large number of Catholic hospitals could shut down rather than comply with the new law.
Look at some of the more militant atheists, such as Richard Dawkins. Some atheists have taken on a new approach, promoting atheism with a "missionary" zeal. As they attack faith in God as unreasonable, they cling to a far more unreasonable faith in "chance".
There is a split in our culture between two irreconcilable ideologies. The truths of Christianity cannot be changed because they are out of favor with the public (although many try to do so). "Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies just because they become fashions," as GK Chesterton said. But those fallacies ARE the fashions today. Abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage, etc., will continue to be promoted as "rights", and anyone who attacks these so-called "rights" will be painted as intolerant, unreasonable, and fanatical. This is where we are today- we are marginalized for our belief in absolute truth. The relativistic society of today promotes the idea that there are no absolutes as an absolute truth. It says with Pilate, "what is truth?"(John 18:38)

I feel we are coming to a time of a more overt persecution of the Church in the West. The world is moving in a direction that is incompatible with the Gospel, and I feel that we will only shift course with great difficulty. Human rights are no longer to honor and protect the dignity of the individual, but the desires of the individual. Freedom of religion is giving way to freedom from religion. Everything is being redefined.
I have felt in recent months that something is coming that we need to be prepared for. That Christians can no longer be complacent. That we need courage for the future. I'm sure this sounds odd to a lot of people, but I know there are many out there who feel the same way.
Whatever happens, we can't face it with fear. Today we celebrated the Feast of Christ the King. Christ is Lord over all, and we need to give all to Him. We need to allow Him to reign over all of our selves, to claim His dominion over our weaknesses and failings as well as our strengths. We cannot give in to fear, for Jesus is the Lord of love, and "perfect love casts out all fear." (1 John 4:18) But we have to be aware of what is going on around us, as well, and awake from our slumber.

We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a trial which the whole Church . . . must take up. —Cardinal Karol Wotyla, reprinted November 9, 1978, issue of The Wall Street Journal

1 comment:

Andrea G said...

I even believe we have persecution within our own Church. I am a huge supporter of the Tridentine Mass, but even after the Pope proclaimed that it should be permitted if the people want it, it has been a great difficulty getting the Tridentine Mass in a church in my city. Opposition even comes from area priests. Our family and some close friends have resorted in the past year to going to the condo of a retired priest that is willing to say this Extraordinary Form for us. Quite a pity. We don't expect that they rid the churches of the Novus Ordo, rather that they just allow us to have the Tridentine Mass in a church, which is where it belongs.