Indifference to the plight of persecuted Christians around the world was highlighted in June when Pope Francis released his first independent encyclical.
Although the Pope warned against things like global warming and issues dealing with the environment, he did not mention the plight of persecuted Christians—even though he is well acquainted with it and even though previous popes mentioned it at times when Christians experienced a small fraction of the persecution they are today.
Encyclicals are formal treatises written by popes and sent to bishops around the world. In turn, bishops are meant to disseminate the encyclical’s ideas to all the priests and churches in their jurisdiction, so that the pope’s thoughts reach every church-attending Catholic.
If it were mentioned in the encyclical, bishops and the congregations under their care would be required to acknowledge the truth about Christian persecution. Perhaps a weekly prayer for the persecuted church could be institutionalized—keeping the plight of those hapless Christians in the spotlight, so Western Catholics and others always remember them, talk about them, and, perhaps most importantly, understand why they are being persecuted. Once enough people are familiar with the reality of Christian persecution, they could influence U.S. policymakers—for starters, to drop those policies that directly exacerbate the sufferings of Christian minorities in the Middle East.
Instead, Francis deemed it more important to issue a proclamation addressing the environment and climate change. Whatever position one holds concerning these topics, it is telling that the pope—the one man in the world best placed and most expected to speak up for millions of persecuted Christians around the world—is more interested in speaking up for “the world” itself.
Meanwhile, Christians around the world in general, the Muslim world specifically, continued to be persecuted and slaughtered. In one little reported story, the Islamic State burned an 80 year-old Christian woman to death in a village southeast of Mosul. The elderly woman was reportedly immolated for refusing to comply with Islamic law.
A group calling itself the “Islamic State in Palestine” spread fliers in east Jerusalem threatening that it would massacre all Christians who fail to evacuate the Holy City. The leaflets, which appeared on June 27, said that the Islamic State knows where the city’s Christians live, and warned that they have until Eid al-Fitr—July 19, when Ramadan ends—to leave the city or be slaughtered. The leaflet was emblazoned with the black flag associated with the Islamic State.
Similarly in Egypt, after the foiled suicide attack on the ancient temples of Karnak in Luxor—a tourist designation—the Islamic State promised a “fiery summer” for the Christian Copts. Abu Zayid al-Sudani, a leading member of the group, tweeted the following: “The bombing of Luxor, a burning summer awaits the tyrant of Egypt [President Sisi] and his soldiers, and the worshippers of the cross. This is just the beginning.”
The rest of June’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes, but is not limited to, the following accounts, listed by theme.
Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches and Cemeteries
Turkey: On June 9, a Muslim man attacked a church in the Kadıköy district of İstanbul with a Molotov cocktail, setting the building’s door on fire. In a video of the attack, the man is seen shouting “Allahu Akbar” [Allah is greater] and “Revenge will be taken for Al-Aqsa Mosque” as he throws a firebomb at the Aya Triada Orthodox Church. The door of the Christian worship building caught fire, though the blaze was extinguished shortly after the attack. The man was detained by police.
Egypt: A bomb was placed alongside a Coptic Christian church—the Virgin Mary Church in Helwan city, part of Greater Cairo—but security managed to dismantle it before it exploded…