American Catholics are aware of Christian persecution but need leadership from clerics

The Hill | Dede Laugesen | 040918
A poll of American Catholics shows many in the pews are aware of worldwide persecution of Christians, but need more leadership to make it a priority for the church in United States.

The Aid to the Church in Need-USA (ACNUSA) survey reveals the extent to which American Catholics are aware of Christian persecution throughout the world, and to what extent they feel the pope, their bishops and their parish priests make the issue a priority. While 40 percent of U.S. Catholics believe persecution is “severe,” and almost half think Pope Francis is “very engaged” on the issue, only 27 percent say the same of their local bishops. Even fewer, 24 percent, feel their parishes are “very involved.” Only half of American Catholics have donated in the past year to an organization that comes to the aid of persecuted Christians.

“What the survey reveals quite clearly,” said George Marlin, chairman of ACNUSA, “is that there is a need to increase the engagement level of the U.S. Catholic Church when it comes to global Christian persecution — both at the grassroots and leadership levels. The issue has to become a priority.”

The World Watch 2018 report by Open Doors USA on Christian persecution says more than 215 million Christians face high levels of persecution, including discrimination, loss of property, torture, rape, slavery, banishment and murder — because of their religious belief. It further reports 255 Christians are killed worldwide each month. Every month, 104 Christians are abducted, 180 Christian women are raped, sexually assaulted or forced into marriage. Another 160 Christians are detained or imprisoned without trial, and 66 churches are attacked.

Leaders of Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC) Coalition, a newly-formed national coalition of groups and individuals reporting on and serving the persecuted, agree that many Catholics could do more at the local level to educate, inform and help in a significant and enduring way.

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