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Pope Francis

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Pope Francis

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Pope Francis

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New secretary of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life

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334 million persecuted Christians in the world, according to Aid to the Church in Need

2016-11-18


In Rome, Aid for the Church in Need presented its Religious Freedom in the World Report. This study analyzes the situation of 196 countries from June 2014 through June 2016. It concludes that Islamist extremism is the main threat for Christians and other religions. 

It states that over 334 million Christians are persecuted and discriminated because of their religion. 

Cardinal Mauricio Piacenza considers that religious liberty is in decline and he compares the number of modern-day martyrs with that of Ancient Rome.

CARD. MAURO PIACENZA
President, ACN International
"Persecution has always threatened Christians and it will always do, but this does not mean that we should have a pessimistic attitude or do nothing about it.”

Out of the 196 countries that have been put under the microscope, 38 of them host Christian communities that suffer serious violations. In 23 of them, there is strong religious persecution, and in 15 there is discrimination. 

The most dangerous countries for Christians are in Middle East and Africa. They are Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, and Somalia, amongst others.

According to Cardinal Piacenza, the worst problem is that the world community remains oblivious to the toil of these communities.

CARD. MAURO PIACENZA
President, ACN International
"We need to open our eyes to the anesthesia that sometimes narcotizes the Christian world and the Western world. They close there eyes or they look the other way, or even worse, do not have time to look.”

Since 2014, one out of five countries has been a victim of an attack from the Islamic State. Its attacks are of extreme cruelty, and they use social media to recruit and terrorize people.

This Islamist extremism, which is felt more strongly every day, has caused a rise in the number of refugees. In 2015, 5.8 million people had to flee their homes and they lost everything. The total number of refugees in the world according to the UN is 65.3 million.

This is the situation that this bishop in Syria has to undergo every day. 

MSGR. JACQUES BEHNAN HINDO
Assyrian Catholic Bishop of Hassaké-Nisibi (Syria)
"Islam does not know what we take for granted: freedom of conscience. Islam does know freedom of religions. Islam does not know the presence of Christians; they tolerate them when they pay their tributes.”

Christians who live under an authoritarian regime, like in China or Turkmenistan undergo difficult circumstances. In two years, in the Chinese province of Zheijang, 2,000 crucifixes have been removed from churches. 

The worst situation is in North Korea and Eritrea. In these countries, freedom of religion does not exist, and faith is punishable with death. Aid to the Church in Need does not have any updated data on these countries. 

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