Bishop Paul J. Bradley’s Sunday Reading Reflections
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STATEMENT ON RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION
UNITED STATES CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS
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.