The persecution of Christians


The death of Bishop Leon Yao Liang of Xiwanzi in Hebei Province on December 30 left 94 bishops in China still under some form of persecution for their loyalty to the Pope.

Bishop Liang died at the age of 87 after 28 years in prison and many years in forced isolation. The communist government withheld news of his death for several days.

The countless Christians recently killed or imprisoned in China join the ranks of martyrs from the first Roman imperial persecutions and their restoration under Julian the Apostate in the fourth century. In that same century, 16,000 Christians were killed in one slaughter in Persia, and the sanguineous trail continued under the Goths and Vandals. The enmity of the Iconoclastic emperors lasted about 120 years, into the eighth century, when the Islamic purges began their unending course. More modern European history is replete with adversity, and there have been no sufferings of the Church worse and also more heroic than those inflicted in recent times by atheist liberals, Nazis, and Communists. Young martyrs, like the Mexican priest Miguel Pro in 1927 and the Polish priest Jerzy Popieluszko in 1984, witness that the past century has mounted history's biggest attack on the Church. The organization Aid to the Church in Need says that Christians are "the most persecuted group in the world today." Its director Neville Kyrke-Smith says that many public voices quick to cite other human-rights abuses ignore oppression of Christians because "We are suffering from a sort of "religious correctness' which means that talking about the persecution of Christians is not acceptable to the secular media today, and sometimes they don't even believe the facts."

The facts are there, and they include the supine surrender of the comfortably established in our society to intimidation by those whose modus vivendi is to threaten. Yale University Press and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have recently succumbed to radical Muslim pressure and censored themselves. At the same time, ridicule of Christianity is flaunted in public institutions as free speech at work. Our own government is increasingly dismissive of the Church, and a prominent foe of Catholicism, who wanted to remove the Church's tax-exempt status, has been nominated to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.

In his New Year audience granted to diplomats, Pope Benedict XVI denounced "hostility, if not scorn, directed towards religion and towards Christianity in particular." It is not the nature of Christianity to get its way by terrorism and dismantling the fabric of democratic freedom. Pope Benedict is in the moral succession of the martyred fourth pope, Clement I, who prayed, "Free us Lord, from those who hate us without cause. Give peace and harmony to us and to all the inhabitants of the Earth, as you gave them to our fathers who called on you with trust and faith."



Father George William Rutler. Weekly Column for January 17, 2010.

Reprinted with permission of Father George W. Rutler.


Father Rutler received priestly ordination in 1981. Born in 1945 and reared in the Episcopal tradition, Father Rutler was an Episcopal priest for nine years. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1979 and was sent to the North American College in Rome for seminary studies. Father Rutler graduated from Dartmouth, where he was a Rufus Choate Scholar, and took advanced degrees at the Johns Hopkins University and the General Theological Seminary. He holds several degrees from the Gregorian and Angelicum Universities in Rome, including the Pontifical Doctorate in Sacred Theology, and studied at the Institut Catholique in Paris. In England, in 1988, the University of Oxford awarded him the degree Master of Studies. From 1987 to 1989 he was regular preacher to the students, faculty, and townspeople of Oxford. Cardinal Egan appointed him Pastor of the Church of Our Saviour, effective September 17, 2001.

Since 1988 his weekly television program has been broadcast worldwide on EWTN. Father Rutler has published 16 books, including: Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections, A Crisis of Saints: Essays on People and Principles, Brightest and Best, Saint John Vianney: The Cure D'Ars Today, Crisis in Culture, and Adam Danced: The Cross and the Seven Deadly Sins.

Copyright © 2010 Father George W. Rutler

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