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Koinonia's Global Challenge

For those interested in matters related to the Conclave, John Allen's reporting is indispensable -- from his profiles of the papabili, to his interviews with Cardinals (I found his interview with Cardinal O'Malley refreshingly direct), to his reflections on the legacy of Benedict XVI.But to his credit, Allen has also labored to keep the plight of Christians and their persecution to the fore. Here is the conclusion of his recent column on that score:

In the most bone-chilling estimate of all, the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary estimates that an average of 100,000 Christians have been killed for the faith each year over the last decade, which works out to 11 new martyrs every hour.These are the global realities of Christian life in the early 21st century, and the cardinals may well carry an awareness of that conflict into the Sistine Chapel when they elect a new pope.

The whole column is here.

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Thanks for this. Among other things, it's a helpful reminder that the challenges the Church (including the cardinals and the next pope) extend far beyond the reaches of conventional U. S. public discourse.

At the meeting of the U.S. bishops this past June, I heard the impassioned plea of Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad who described to the bishops the persecution of the church in Iraq since the U.S. War in Iraq. He said: "As leaders of the church in the United States, you bear a special responsibility toward the people and Christians of Iraq. In 2003, your government led the war that brought some terrible consequences. We have freedom of worship, but we do not have freedom of conscience or of religion. If someone becomes a Christian, they could be killed very easily.Bishop Warduni received a standing ovation.I wonder if there were any bishops squirming in their seats at the accusation that the U.S. government was the cause for the situation of the Church in Iraq. But more relevant, I wonderif they had any had second thoughts about what constitutes REAL religious persecution in our American society in which laws and courts can be used to settle such things. I wonder if any bishop had reservations about supporting financially the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Fortnight for Freedom, and accompanying politically biased rhetoric and expenditure of money.

Rupert Shortt, religion editor of The Times Literary Supplement, has written a very fine book on this subject, entitled Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack. The book was published in England in November, and will be available in the US from Erdmanns in May.

That should be Eerdmans.

What can we do here to help fellow Christians suffering elsewhere in the world? (not rhetorical, I'm looking for suggestions).

Helen,I appreciate your question. I think a start is that we all be better informed of the actual situation. The book that John Page mentions seems to be a good place to begin. Second, Catholic magazines and newspapers could give it much more attention than they seem to do ("The Tablet" an honorable exception). Third, we can do a better job lobbying our own government. Secretary of State Kerry publicly rebuked the Prime Minister of Turkey over his remarks regarding Zionism; did he represent to the President of Egypt concern regarding the situation of the Copts and other Christians? Perhaps he did, but I did not see it reported. Finally, a permanent mention in the prayers of the faithful at Mass: a contemporary martyrology, recalling specific individuals and situations.

Robert Imbelli:I think you are answering the question posed by Irene Baldwin.My comment was just a rant about how narrow and insular the U.S. Catholic Church leadership appears.

Sorry, Irene it was.

If you really, really want to do something significant and if you have room, you can provide a room for a refugee for 18 months - many of them are Christians.http://sojournersvisitorprogram.blogspot.com/

O'Malley comes across as as straight shooter. That appeals to me, probably because I'm American, and perhaps that sort of energetic directness would disqualify him from consideration.

And "O'Malley" doesn't end in a real vowel ... just a vowel-wannabe.

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About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is an associate professor of theology at Boston College.