In December 2018 the UK launched an independent inquiry into the persecution of Christians worldwide.
In order to mark the publication of this report, the British embassy to the Holy See held this event at the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Island in Rome. It is home to relics of modern day Christian martyrs ranging from Europe to the Middle East.
Sally Axworthy, British Ambassador to the Holy See, believes it is important to better understand and assist persecuted Christians.
British Ambassador to the Holy See
“Some of the statistics are shocking. The report says 80 percent of people who suffer persecution for their religious beliefs worldwide are Christian. It says 245 million Christians are being persecuted. So they are big numbers and getting people talking about this is the first step; and then we need to look at what we can do to protect those people who are suffering for their religious beliefs.”
The final report identifies an ever increasing rise in the persecution of Christians. It says in places such as the Middle East, Christianity “now faces the possibility of being wiped out.” For example, in Syria the Christian population has declined from 1.7 million in 2011 to below 450,000.
Furthermore, Fr. Boniface Mendes says in Pakistan Christians are persecuted by Islamic extremism. He notes how girls are kidnapped, raped and forced to convert to Islam. Additionally, he says governments such as Britain have for a long time not listened to them.
FR. BONIFACE MENDES
Diocese of Faisalabad (Pakistan)
“When a student passes with very good marks to become a doctor, he or she will loose 20 marks because they have not said the Koran. Whereas a Muslim whether he or she knows the Koran or not will get a certificate, saying they have passed the test and gets 20 marks for it.” “The British government have refused to give us funds because we are 'denomination schools as they say' they will not take anything connected to the faith. Whereas the Islamic group they do fund and where those funds go to we really do not know.”
Similarly, according to Sr. Monica Chikwe in countries such as Nigeria this kind of persecution is often fueled by a lack of education and brainwashing.
SR. MONICA CHIKWE
Hospitaller Sisters of Mercy (Nigeria)
“Really ignorance and illiteracy are some of the main causes of persecution. This is because many religions indoctrinate their members, indoctrinating them with facts that escalate violence and killing. They let them believe that in killing somebody they will receive a heavenly award. The people that are not educated are easily manipulated.”
The report hopes to raise more awareness and action in addressing the ever increasing threat against Christianity worldwide.