We do indeed need to show joy as Catholics. My motto — “Be happily and uncomplicatedly Catholic.”
Michael J. Sheehan, Archbishop of Santa Fe
The Devil Was Right
In Light Reading for Good and Wayward Catholics, the Devil learns that God has created Man and offered a gift which God unsuspectingly accepts. The gift is religion. Then the Devil gleefully cries, “Now there will never be peace on earth. There will be more fighting over religion than over land and gold. Thousands of religious turf battles will be a constant war until Man no longer exists.”
In his book, The Catholic Martyrs of the 20th Century, Robert Royal states there were more martyrs in the last century than all those since Stephen, the first Christian, was murdered. And I bet there were more martyrs in the past decade than in the previous 100 years. What does that tell you? The U. S. Commission on International Religious Freedom lists 14 of the world’s worst religious freedom violators and human rights abusers. Here they are: Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq ,Nigeria ,North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
The squeeze play against Christians is evident throughout theMiddle East. We Americans must accept the blame for having devastated Iraq. Before our military intervention there were 1.4 million Christians living peacefully with the Muslim
community. Today the estimate is 150,000. Louis Sako, Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk, likened the force of Islamic fundamentalists to a volcano, with the goal of creating Islamic regimes throughout theMiddle East. He said, “The Western mentality does not allow it to fully comprehend this risk because the West does not recognize the significance of religion in public life.”
InIsrael, because of discrimination and hardship imposed by the Jewish State, the Christian population in Bethlehemhas fallen from 85% to 12%.
Worldwide, although we Catholics are the victim of prominence, we have to acknowledge other battles taking place within the wide umbrella of Islam; Muslins vs. Hindus; tribal massacres, etc. 164 Mexican priests received death threats during the past year.
While being aware of and concerned about persecuted Christians, we must remember that these dastardly actions are done mostly by a fraction of 1% of the Muslim population. You cannot condemn a body because of a painful hangnail. We must have empathy for the Muslim mass that cringes with shame at the actions of their militant criminals. Ali Gomaa, Egypt’s senior Islamic scholar and the country’s Grand Mufti, agreed that, “Outlaws want to defy the authority of the state.” In a future blog, I will invite a Muslim leader to be a guest writer to express his thoughts.
We Americans can be proud of our considerate restraint. Following 9/11, we didn’t destroy mosques and kill Muslims. If a religious idiot in theMiddle East burns a Bible, we don’t have mob protests and burn images of their leaders. We don’t condemn to death one who slanders Christ. And it is important that we don’t becoming “an eye for an eye” people.
We must be aware of prejudice, which is the first cousin of martyrdom. On a recent visit to Glasgow, when I asked my Catholic host if the Scots were prejudiced against their immigrants from Africaand the Middle East. “No,” he said, “but we live in a Protestant country and all the prejudice here is focused against us Catholics. I recently was told not to bother to apply for a particular job.”
Also, we should support our organizations that are aiding Christians in troubled parts of the world. (See “My Favorite Organization”)
During our historic era of martyrdom, what do you think we Joyful Catholics can and should do? I welcome your suggestions to share with other readers.(email@example.com)
Other recommended Catholic blogs
In an interview with the London Times, #1 pop singer Katy Perry showed her “Jesus” tattoo on inside of her left wrist. She said, “I had it done when I was 18 because I love Jesus.” She added that the tattoo constantly reminds her about respect and integrity, the difference between right and wrong.
On tours, she carries a box of prayers and she said, “Before each performance, we form a circle and read a little prayer. I have a constant feed between me and God and every day is a chance to ask for humility and grace, like — don’t become too proud.”
Roster of Joyful Catholic Priests
The media loves to publicize bad priests, and we should give recognition to our Joyful Catholic Priests. Send me your recommendation for ones you think merit membership in this splendid group. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Msgr. Edward Filardi (MD)
Fr. Andrew Gries (DC)
Fr. Joseph Marini (CA)
Fr. John Mericantante (FL)
Fr. Matthew Ruhl, S.J. (KS)
Fr. Michael Scanlon (OH)
Canon Stuart Wilson,London(UK)