Yesterday the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
issued a call for prayer and action on behalf of those who are victims of religious persecution
around the world. This is an especially appropriate call during Lent, as we seek to unite ourselves
ever more closely with Christ’s suffering. The press release and statement are below:
Bishops Call for Prayer Amidst ‘Stark Reality’ of Religious Persecution, Violence
March 10, 2015
WASHINGTON—People of all faiths are called to pray for victims of religious persecution and
violence and work to protect the marginalized and persecuted around the world, according to
a statement of the Administrative Committee of the U.S. bishops, approved March 10. The
bishops said Lent is a time for prayerfully reflecting on suffering.
“Let us use this season to unite with our suffering brothers and sisters and pray for them and
with them in a special way,” they said. “With hope, let us pray for the day when we can all share
in the joy and lasting peace of Christ’s resurrection.”
The Administrative Committee is chaired by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky,
president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The committee consists of the
elected chairs of the 16 standing committees, the elected representatives of 15 geographic regions,
the chairman of Catholic Relief Services and the elected officers of USCCB.
Full text of the statement follows:
STATEMENT ON RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION
UNITED STATES CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS
March 10, 2015
Upon learning of the death of 21 Coptic Christians at the hands of ISIL terrorists, Pope Francis called
their murder a “testimony which cries out to be heard.” On behalf of America’s Catholic Bishops, we
pause to listen and invite people of all faiths to join us in prayer for those facing the stark reality of
religious persecution in the Middle East and elsewhere. The testimony of those 21 brave and courageous
martyrs does not stand alone as thousands of families – Christian and other religions – find themselves
fleeing from horrific violence.
We urge all people of goodwill to work toward protections of the marginalized and persecuted. In union
with the local Churches and the Holy See, we call upon our nation to: work with the international community
to intervene and protect the rights of religious minorities and civilians within the framework of international
and humanitarian law; address political and economic exclusion that are exploited by extremists; and increase
humanitarian and development assistance.
Lent is a season to meditate upon the Cross and unite ourselves even more closely with Christ’s suffering.
Let us use this season to unite with our suffering brothers and sisters and pray for them and with them
in a special way. With hope, let us pray for the day when we can all share in the joy and lasting peace
of Christ’s resurrection.
Keywords: religious persecution, Middle East, ISIL, Islamic State, Pope Francis, U.S. bishops, Administrative
Committee, martyrs, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Louisville, Kentucky,
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