US Bishops Decry Anti-Christian Violence

Urge Government to Be Mindful of Freedom When Making Economic Decisions

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JAN. 7, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. episcopal conference is urging the Obama administration to make economic and political decisions being mindful of governments’ indifference to the protection of their citizens.

Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, New York, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, in a Thursday letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said that «egregious violations of human rights as well as indifference and inaction by foreign governments to the protection of their own citizens must be weighed seriously» in economic and political decisions taken by the administration. 

Bishop Hubbard’s letter as well as two statements from Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the United States Catholic of Conference Bishops, responded to a recent surge in anti-Christian violence, particularly the Jan. 1 explosion at an Orthodox Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt, which claimed the lives of 21 people and injured more than 100.

Archbishop Dolan called the Alexandria attack a «shocking assault on human life and religious freedom.»

«So many innocent lives lost to such senseless violence calls for the strongest condemnation by all religious leaders and by persons of conscience everywhere,» Archbishop Dolan wrote in a message to the Coptic leader, Patriarch Shenouda III of the See of St. Mark in Alexandria. «Please be assured that the Catholic bishops of the United States stand in solidarity with you and your Church in this time of trial and suffering.»

In a separate statement, Archbishop Dolan called for prayer for religious freedom, for Christians and people of other faiths: «The recent violence in the Middle East and the ongoing threats to religious freedom in countries like Pakistan, Nigeria, China and North Korea remind us of what Pope Benedict has recently said, that religious freedom is essential not only as a human right, but in ensuring world peace.»

Why the silence? 

Meanwhile, Ray Flynn, a former mayor of Boston who served as the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See under President Bill Clinton, released a statement questioning why anti-Christian violence gets so little attention.

He wrote: «The central question I asked was, ‘Why is it that Catholics are afraid to speak out against injustice, hatred and even violence directed against them?’ I complained to the national media. One outlet said to me, ‘Ambassador, you are the only person to bring this to our attention. We don’t hear too much from you folks.'»

«I can’t imagine another religious group who would allow the media — conservative or progressive — to get away with this,» Flynn remarked. «[…] I’m beginning to see no difference between the [political] parties or in the media, when it comes to traditional Catholic concerns.«

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