The deaths of a hundred thousand Christians in the world each year are met with a shameful silence in the mass media. And the 20th century was the century with most martyrs in all of history. In Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Iraq, North Korea, Syria, Yemen, and the Maldives, persecution is particularly destructive.
In the Holy Land and the Middle East as a whole, the exile of persecuted Christians has been such that many Arab nations in the region risk remaining without a Christian population.
Christians suffer attacks and many different types of pressure to force them to leave their land. In China, temples are destroyed out of fear regarding the constant growth of Catholicism in the country. In India, they generally belong to the poorest social groups and are considered and treated as second class citizens. Religious freedom, however, is absent in many nations throughout the world. As a result, the daily lives of many Christians are filled with imprisonment, secrecy, discrimination, and loss of work.
In Europe, attempts have been made to remove religion from public spheres, and in Spain the Church is mocked in the media and attacked by political parties – who demand that the agreements with the Holy See be revised and that religious education be removed from public schools. On an international level, the UN has been trying to impose its birth control policies on the Catholic Church.
Nonetheless, Catholicism continues to grow – especially in the poorest nations of the world. Africa, Asia, and Latin America have seen the highest increases in the number of Catholics. Today, the majority of the community is poor and persecuted. Its constant denunciation of injustice and economic imperialism has pushed it into conflicts with the rich and powerful. Where fundamental human rights are attacked, and in particular when it is weak that suffer, the voice of the Church is present, and there are Christians willing to sacrifice their lives because of their faith. These people are persecuted because they testify to a life in which communion between all humans is possible.
They face violence with the meekness of the weak, oppression with compassionate service, and totalitarianism with the truth that brings freedom. The powerful force of love conquers all evil with virtue. And this force, in the hands of the weak and small has the power to change history and fill human existence with hope.
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